Brentwood Conservatives have reacted angrily at the revelation of a secret report, which was commissioned under the previous Lib Dem led Council on the plans for the future of the Town Hall.
The report, which cost £10k was requested back in February and included a secrecy clause, which prevented the details from being made public.
New Council Leader, Louise McKinlay said, "I was shocked to discover that the report had been commissioned in such a secretive way. The previous Lib Dem led administration promised openness and transparency but failed to deliver this. Instead, they have spent a sizeable amount of taxpayers' money without sharing this fact with other councillors, including the cross party Town Hall Working Group. It is outrageous and begs the question of what was there to hide?"
Despite the secrecy clause, Louise McKinlay fought hard to get the report published and secured the agreement of the report's author, allowing for the information to be put in to the public domain.
Louise continued, "With the news of the report's existance and the significance of the details within it, I believe it is important that it is shared with residents. I do not know why the Lib Dem led Council felt the need to try and keep it secret. The Town Hall project has generated a lot of interest and people have a right to know what is within the report and the potential impact on the cost of the project, especially as the report suggests the true cost would be nearly double the original estimate."
The Conservative led Council is now seeking to work with other public sector partners and hopes to bring them in to the Town Hall to create a "community hub" and to reduce the running costs of the Town Hall for the Council. Discussions are already underway with ECC and Job Centre Plus and it is hoped that the Police and NHS will also consider sharing some of the excess space in the building, which is currently two thirds empty and costing nearly £900k per year to run.