Thornaby Town Hall renovation costs force council tax rise

Thornaby Town Hall shown in April 2017 Image copyright Google
Image caption Thornaby Town Hall (shown here in 2017) has been mostly unused for decades

The increasing cost of renovating a Grade II-listed former town hall is expected to force a rise in council tax.

Work on Thornaby Town Hall was proposed in 2012 when the town council bought it from Stockton Borough Council.

The refurbishment is facing a £250,000 shortfall, which could be covered by a hike in the town's precept on council tax.

Thornaby mayor Steve Walmsley said it was an "investment".

"We made a pledge to the people of Thornaby, supported by the people, to get this building back to pristine condition," he said.

"To stop now would be stupid and reneging on everything we've done and promised."

It would be a "matter of pennies" on each bill, he said.

'Simple choice'

It had been hoped the 19th Century building would be finished by Christmas, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Most of it has been unused since 1968, when the former Thornaby-on-Tees Borough Council ceased to exist.

Building work has uncovered extra problems and the cost of rewiring has nearly doubled. Vandals smashed windows and ridge tiles during a break-in earlier this year.

Plans to apply for a loan from the government's Public Works Loan Board were scrapped when it increased its rates last month.

Mr Walmsley said it was a "simple choice".

"You leave the town hall three-quarters complete, which is no good to anybody, or we finish it and, when it is finished, it's an asset," he said.

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