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Cost pressures threaten Lyndhurst Parish Council office

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Lyndhurst Parish Council's office in the High Street
Lyndhurst Parish Council's office in the High Street

LYNDHURST Parish Council may be forced to close its office in the village due to running costs of around £10,000 per month.

The facility has been located at 13 High Street for the past two years and is open to members of the public for two days a week.

Manned by parish clerk Margaret Weston, it is also used to store the council's important files.

But parish chairman Cllr Mark Rollé explained the council was required by the national park authority to apply to renew the temporary consent for office use.

However, Cllr Chris Willsher said the more pressing question was whether the council could afford to actually keep it running, adding: “I supported the office when it was first proposed. I'm just not sure that it is sustainable.”

Cllr George Bisson said: “It’s a very valid question. I think it is important that we have a public face. But it's a case of looking at it properly; the benefits we get from it and the parishioners. The ethos of it is correct – whether we can afford it is another thing.”

Mrs Weston said the costs of running the office varied between £10,000 – £12,000 per year. The council has an annual income of around £70,000 which comes from the precept and grants.

She said: “I just can't see how you can sustain it. [The money] is coming from the reserves. But you will no longer have any reserves if you want to do the things such as the new bus shelter and new playground equipment.”

Cllr Peter Burrows suggested the council should look at ways of generating income from the premises, such as sub-letting it on the days it was not in use.

Members agreed with Cllr Bisson’s suggestion of contacting the NPA to ask for a temporary extension for the use of the building while further discussions about its future were held.

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