Mayor resigns over £175,000 plan for new council offices

A TOWN mayor has resigned in protest after his former civic colleagues to lavish public money on transforming a former library into their new HQ.

Joe Coughlan quit both as Mayor and a member of Kirkbymoorside Town Council, saying he could not support spending 175,000 on converting the historic building in Church Street.

The Church Street site was left empty when a new 600,000 library and information centre opened in Church House in the market place last year.

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Now the proposal is to turn the library into offices for the council and its two staff. But Mr Coughlan does not think it represents value for money in the current economic climate.

He added: "I don't believe the decision, however well intentioned, is in the best interests of the public in the present climate of spending cuts. It is a charming building but any scheme to convert it will be a challenge."

Mr Coughlan a member of the council for just over four years, was re-elected Mayor in May.

He believed the council's staff could be accommodated in an empty office in the former Community Office in Shambles, Kirkbymoorside. Residents protest there is ample space in the Memorial Hall.

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He continued: "It sends out the wrong signal for the town council to spend so much money, and to precept the taxpayers in Kirkbymoorside for the next 20 years."

He thought it would be better to convert the former library for use by young people or as a museum, linked to the Ryedale Folk Museum.

He added: "Kirkbymoorside is a wonderful community, and I step down from the council without any ill-feeling. I am keen to help the community, but there are times when you have to stand up on an issue."

The town council voted by six votes to two to seek approval to borrow 175,000 to carry out the scheme to convert the library to new council offices and a meeting room.

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Having made the decision, they decided not to negotiate with Ryedale House for a lease on the community office.

Deputy Mayor Coun Gaynor de Barr said: "I am very saddened by Joe's decision because he has made a very significant contribution to the town and its community and been a splendid councillor, but I respect his decision."

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