A REFERENDUM in Shipston-on-Stour on whether the town council should buy the police station for £180,000 could sabotage the purchase at the 11th hour.
The council, which wants to buy the building in West Street so officers still have a base in the town, has been negotiating with Warwickshire Police for nearly a year.
The council plans to move into the police station in March, letting two rooms back to the police— an office and a small locker room.
But there is a public meeting on Wednesday night at the Townsend Hall, in Sheep Street, where residents will vote whether they want a poll of all the town’s electors on the decision.
Mike Ashley, one of six citizens who called for the meeting, said the people of Shipston had not been consulted enough on such a huge purchase paid for with taxpayers’ money.
Georgina Beaumont, the town clerk, pointed out that holding the poll would cost the town council £3,000. The purchase of the police station had been discussed at town council meetings where the public were allowed to voice their opinions for three minutes, and the progress of negotiations had been revealed in the last four issue of Shipston Forum, the community newsletter, she said.
Although unhappy it is being held at all, the Mayor of Shipston, Cllr Paul Rathkey, said he will exercise his right as town mayor and chair the meeting.
Only one councillor, Philip Vial, does not support the purchase, but even he is unhappy the meeting is taking place. He said: “I am perhaps the only councillor who opposed the police station purchase in the end and even I think this is an appalling step.
"Although I have no problem with local residents wanting to call a parish poll—in fact I applaud it—calling a poorly advertised meeting at one week's notice is not exactly democracy in action.
"He [Mr Ashley] should have given more time and more thought to publicity for the meeting before taking this step.
"Whichever way it goes local people will have to pick up the bill for the referendum, just when the town council had actually managed to reduce this year's precept.”
Moving the council to the police station will allow it to either lease or sell its current home, Clark House in West Street.
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