Questions asked after Royton Town Hall plans revealed as over budget

THE cost of refurbishing Royton Town Hall and re-location of Royton Library has risen by nearly 50 per cent in 12 months.

A recent Freedom of Information request revealed an original £2 million project budget has now risen to £2.976m.

Royton Town Hall

Cllr Howard Sykes MBE, Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, said: “I am worried this will be just the first of many increases the Cabinet will have to consider.

“This is all too typical of Labour regeneration projects – they are often late, over budget or never happen and sometimes we have a combination of all three.

“Everyone will remember the £9 million plus being spent on the Prince’s Gate project, now years behind schedule and still no preferred development partner announced, the over £400,000 frittered away on the abandoned Hotel Futures project, and the Oldham Town Hall refurbishment, which whilst being welcome, was four times over budget.

“We have now been told plans for a new Coliseum Theatre have been axed.

“We have yet to find out what this has cost council tax payers.”

A public consultation about the proposals was launched in November 2017.

Under the plans, Royton Library will be moving from its current location into the ground floor of the town hall.

The new library will be a modern community venue which will preserve and make the most of the building’s historic features. It will include modernised library facilities, meeting rooms and office space.

The plans also include remodelled open space to the rear of the building, better disabled access and improved connectivity between the library, health centre and leisure centre.

The vacated library building will be marketed as a commercial opportunity and the council is seeking a tenant with a sympathetic view to its heritage that can offer something new to the district to benefit everyone.

Jean Stretton, Oldham Council Leader at the time of the consultation, said: “Our libraries are an important community asset.

“This is a significant investment and is a great opportunity to get involved and have your say on the future of the town hall and library.”

Now Cllr Arooj Shah, Deputy Council Leader, said: “This is an important project for the regeneration of Royton.

“The original budget, based on a high-level feasibility study, was £2million.

“But following more detailed designs and survey work it became clear that would not deliver a facility that would properly meet the needs of a modern library fit for the future.

“To do that, the costs increased to £2.4m and all regeneration projects must include a 24 percent contingency.

“This investment will deliver a major upgrade and improvements to a building we know is vital to the heritage and fabric of Royton – and we must get it right.”

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