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Halesowen Sons of Rest building should be kept for the community
11:21am Thursday 16th August 2012 in Letters
The public meetings which Cllr Donella Russell has called over the sale of the Sons of Rest in Wall Well are raising some interesting questions about the public sector and public ownership of property.
The Sons of Rest was built around 1947 from public subscription and subsequently donated, I believe, to Halesowen Council, as it was then. When Halesowen Council was later absorbed by first Worcestershire Council and then Dudley Council , ownership was transferred.
Under the Conservatives, Dudley Council approved the sale of the land and building and a 'For Sale' board has gone up and will, I understand, remain up although Cllr Russell has secured a temporary suspension of the sale.
The issue those of us who want to keep the property in public ownership for community use, is to get local community groups to use it. A key issue here is the costs of upkeep of the property. I don't believe that charges to community groups should be expected to cover all the costs, eg. why should a public service be expected to pay business rates?
Councils raise their income from three sources: local taxes, charges and central government grant, ie. national taxes. So charges cannot be expected to cover all the costs of providing a public service, which is what we want the Sons of Rest to be.
We need to have this argument with the Council, I would urge Cllr Russell either to get an officer to the next meeting in September or to form a sub-group which will go and see the Council.
John Payne, Dudley Green Party, Halesowen.