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Takeover targeted


Discussions have started that could one day see the ownership of Bingham’s centrepiece, the Market Place, in the hands of the town.

Bingham Town Council has debated taking over the management or ownership of various town assets, including the market square.

The Mayor of Bingham, Mr Francis Purdue-Horan, said residents had shown they felt passionately about the future of Bingham’s market place when they spoke out against it being used as a carpark last year.

He said: “It’s clear that people have very strong opinions about the market place. Clearly the community consider the market place to be theirs.

“If anyone has an image of Bingham, the first thing they think of is the Buttercross and Market Place.

“It defines Bingham. It is one of the jewels in the crown of the community. It is strongly identified as a community facility.”

The idea also has the backing of the action group, Community Concern.

Its spokesman, Mr Dennis Briggs, said: “It is the focal point of Bingham. It has been for hundreds of years. It is relaxing, it is pleasant and it enhances the ambience.”

Mr Briggs felt town councillors were keen to protect Bingham, but was not sure the borough council felt the same way — with the exception of local borough councillors.

The debate at Tuesday’s policy and resources committee was sparked by a report produced by the town clerk, Mr Alan Harvey.

It was based on a local government report that argued handing public assets to communities would lead to better services and stronger communities.

Mr Harvey’s report said: “One area where more localised management could be to the benefit of the community is the market square.

“This is an area where sensitivity, local knowledge and more importantly locally- based management, could play a part in increasing the utilisation of the square to greater community benefit with the added potential of increased income streams.”

The deputy mayor, Mr George Davidson, agreed that they should approach the borough council to explore the possibility of transferring assets and services to the town council.

Mr Davidson said a former mayor, the late Mr Eric Green, would have been delighted the subject was being discussed.

He said: “He felt very strongly over many years that Bingham Market Place belonged to Bingham.”

Concerns were raised at the meeting about the risks involved with owning and managing the Market Square and that it may not be the best time for the town council to start looking at any major initiatives.

The committee recommended the town council ask the borough council if it would consider working in partnership to identify any assets or services it would be willing to transfer to them.

It will be discussed at a town council meeting a week on Tuesday.

A borough council spokesman said they would consider a request to transfer the Market Square to the town council but would need to work out the implications and consider resource issues carefully.

She said this would take some time to discuss but they had good contact arrangements with local councils already in place.

She said: “Any decisions would need approval by the borough council’s cabinet.”

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