Newmarket Town Council set to spend £44,000 on clock tower revamp
A council has agreed to press on with a project to improve the look of the area around the town’s clock tower despite some councillors’ concerns it would cost too much.
Members of the town council’s community services committee recommended work on the scheme, which will cost in the region of £44,000, should start next year throwing out a suggestion by committee chairman, Cllr Tom Kerby, that residents’ view should be sought in a consultation exercise.
The project won the unanimous support of the council last year and, just before the local elections earlier this year, councillors resolved that the budget surplus from the community services account of £28,314 would be committed to the project.
In addition, £35,557 from the town centre reserves was available to contribute towards the cost and £8,000 had been allocated from the2019-20 community service budget for the project.
“In my opinion it is a lot of money to spend on one project,” said Cllr Kerby “and I think we should seek the views of residents before we go ahead. It would look nice but I am also concerned about ongoing maintenance.”
Referring to a service contract (SLA) the council has with West Suffolk Council, which includes horticultural maintenance and grass cutting, Cllr Kerby said: “The SLA performance has been very poor.”
But Cllr Mick Jefferys said issues with the contract should not be used to sidetrack a project which was the result of a lot of work by two former councillors and the funding for which had already been agreed.
“We want to be productive and we want the town to be more attractive,” he said.
Deputy mayor, Cllr James Lay, added: “We can’t, as a town council, just sit on our hands; we have to work to make our town look better.
“If the budget is there to be spent, we should move forward.”
Planning approval for the scheme was given last year when former councillors Philippa Winter and Amy Starkey worked on the project design, with award winning landscape and garden design expert Thomas Hoblyn, which will include seasonal planting, additional trees, shrubs, curbing and lighting.