No new report on old town hall

JPCT 161211 The Old Town Hall, Horsham. photo by derek martin
JPCT 161211 The Old Town Hall, Horsham. photo by derek martin

CAMPAIGNERS objecting to Horsham District Council’s handling of the old town hall controversy have had their call for a new report turned down.

They had objected to Horsham District Council’s accounts for the year ended 31 March 2011 and called on district auditor Helen Thompson to make public a number of concerns about details of the local authority’s procedures.

But Ms Thompson has now written to Robert Mayfield, treasurer of the Blue Flash Trust, saying: “In my opinion a Report in the Public Interest would be a disproportionate response to those issues and could unnecessarily undermine public confidence in the council.

“Instead I can deal with such matters through my routine reporting processes, including my Annual Audit Letter.”

She added that there was no statutory right of appeal against her decision.

Mr Mayfield commented on Tuesday: “Unfortunately the District Auditor’s process was too slow to be of any use as this report was issued after the current court action against HDC was launched.

“This delay by the Audit Commission rendered our original request for a Public Information Report irrelevant as our allegations about the council’s unethical behaviour over the Old Town Hall will now be fully aired in the High Court.

“In our view, much of the district auditor’s report is based upon unsubstantiated claims by the council.

“We would also question the completeness of the report and whether it represents value for money for the Horsham taxpayer.”

Having failed to find a commercial tenant for the hall, the council has now put it up for sale.

The Blue Flash Trust has long argued that the listed building in Market Square is a community asset and should be made available for use by Horsham residents.