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Rebranding idea for Downham town hall backed by councillors

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Downham’s town hall could be rebranded as a community and arts centre under proposals backed by councillors last night.

The idea, which is now likely to be the basis of further development and public consultation, came from a working party set up by the town council to look into how the building might be used.

And one of its members, Alan Pickering, told the town council's meeting that doing nothing was not an option.

Downham Market Town Hall. (28399735)
Downham Market Town Hall. (28399735)

He said: “We’re not making any money. The last thing we had said it was going to cost us more than £10,000 to pay for it. We need to do something different.

“If we’re not careful, it will just stagnate and nothing will get done.”

Deputy mayor Jenny Groom said it had always been her dream to have an arts centre in Downham, but that she was worried that developing one would require large-scale investment and potentially put some users off going there.

She called for the building to be described as a community hub and arts centre instead.

Meanwhile, Doug Lawson suggested the town council could move its offices to the town hall, enabling their current home in Paradise Road to be rented out in order to generate revenue.

And mayor Becky Hayes questioned both how the idea fitted into the development of a neighbourhood plan for the town as well as who should ultimately decide the town hall’s future.

She said: “It’s an iconic building and how we rebrand it needs to be a community decision, not a town council decision.”

But Cissy Lightfoot, the head of the working party, said work on the neighbourhood plan was still not completed after four years.

She asked: “How long are we going to wait for every single group to come up with a strategy?”

She added that external funding could be obtained for redevelopment.

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