Town opens new civic ‘hub’ that will also provide a home for two Syrian refugee families
- Credit: Archant
A two day event marked the opening of new offices for Whittlesey town council that include providing housing for two Syrian refugee families.
The town council has moved into part of the former police station whilst two flats have been converted - with the help of Government funding - to provide homes for the refugees.
On Saturday townsfolk got a chance to look round their new civic 'hub' prior to the official opening the following day by the High Sheriff Neil McKittrick.
Mr McKittrick cut the ribbon to officially open the building whilst John Flack, the recently retired bishop of Huntingdon, blessed the building in front of 60 guests,
Town councillor Roy Gerstner, writing on his blog, said: "There appears to be some misconception about this building and why it was purchased.
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"This was done prior to me being elected, although I am in full support because - like renting a house - you'll pay forever; this is being bought as a community asset to our town.
"The cost of the building was at a favourable price and the loan was also very low."
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He added: "There is a lot of potential for rental income, two flats which as most now are aware are being rented to two Syrian refugee families. The cost is to the tax-payer as the Government is funding this for five years, as they do for hundreds/thousands of other refugees.
"There is a small short-fall in projected income as there has been a short delay in them moving in."
The town council will earn a guaranteed £71,500 from the Government over five years for use of the flats.
Under the government scheme a managing agent would be provided at no cost to the town council to monitor the premises and be on hand for any emergency."
The new building will have a ground floor council chamber with fully disabled facilities.
The other side of the building will house the town clerk, a working area for councillors and a public reception."
The Government set up the Syrian Vulnerable People's scheme which many councils are taking part in, with the aim of finding homes for 20,000 people who have fled Syria.
Whittlesey Town Council agreed to provide two flats to help rehouse Syrian refugee families.
These were the vacant flats which were acquired as part of the purchase.
When the council agreed to take part in the scheme, it was on the condition that it would be at no cost to Whittlesey council tax payers.
The flats were used for police officer accommodation but in around 2009 were turned into interview suites. They are now to be converted back to flats.
Whittlesey police station closed in August 2016 as part of a restructure.
The police station opened in the town in October 1968.