Labour calls in council Walton Hall consultation

Challenge over Walton Hall decision

Challenge over Walton Hall decision

First published in News

THE council’s decision to continue talking to a hotel company over the future of Walton Hall and Gardens has been called in by an opposition councillor.

Clr Terry O’Neill, leader of the Labour Group, has asked for the executive board’s decision to continue talks with Contessa over turning Walton Hall into a hotel be examined by a panel of councillors.

He said: “I have complained at the legality of the decision. We are questioning the lack of consultation and all they are consulting on is the masterplan, there wasn’t any consultation on the vision for Walton Hall. It wasn’t a proper transparent open procurement process either with only one company - Contessa.”

A mass of public opposition was mounted when it was revealed that Warrington Borough Council were looking at offering a 125 year lease for Walton Hall.

Save Walton Gardens had collected more than 17,000 members of a Facebook group opposing any lease and also handed over a petition with more than 7,000 signatures to Clr Ian Marks, leader of the council.

They have received one offer from Contessa that would see the hall and some of the surrounding gardens closed off to the public to create a five star hotel.

At a packed executive board meeting last week Mark White, from the group Save Walton Gardens, told the public it had seen a large rise in operation costs for the estate in just one year.

And Labour councillors asked for a copy of those accounts at Monday night’s full council meeting to check the changes.

“The transport costs have gone up so much I think they are manipulating the figures to make it look like it’s not profitable. We think they are running the estate down so it looks like the only option is to sell it off,” added Clr O’Neill.

Comments (10)

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10:06am Wed 23 Jun 10

LJ says...

If my information is correct, they closed the cafe a few weeks ago, which was making a profit, then, and with the increase in visitors over the summer months.....They are definately manipulating the figures! I would like to know what are the transport costs?
If my information is correct, they closed the cafe a few weeks ago, which was making a profit, then, and with the increase in visitors over the summer months.....They are definately manipulating the figures! I would like to know what are the transport costs? LJ
  • Score: 0

11:52am Wed 23 Jun 10

Reader says...

Which Councillors will sit on the calling in Panel to 'examine' and then determine if the decision made or process is correct?
The cafe was closed. They said it was losing money but after questions were raised about the figures it seems that it possibly was making a profit after all. As well as the rather odd 'increase' in transport costs from £3982 in 2007/2008 up to £111,498 in 2008/2009 (2800% increase!?) there has also allegidly been a massive rise in electricity costs from £14k to £81k (550% increase !?). I wonder if they are 'accidentally' including the costs for Walton Lea Crematorium in all their figures?
SEE www .savewalton gardens .co .uk BLOG page. for questions and more info on costs from FOI request makes interesting reading.
Which Councillors will sit on the calling in Panel to 'examine' and then determine if the decision made or process is correct? The cafe was closed. They said it was losing money but after questions were raised about the figures it seems that it possibly was making a profit after all. As well as the rather odd 'increase' in transport costs from £3982 in 2007/2008 up to £111,498 in 2008/2009 (2800% increase!?) there has also allegidly been a massive rise in electricity costs from £14k to £81k (550% increase !?). I wonder if they are 'accidentally' including the costs for Walton Lea Crematorium in all their figures? SEE www .savewalton gardens .co .uk BLOG page. for questions and more info on costs from FOI request makes interesting reading. Reader
  • Score: 0

12:06pm Wed 23 Jun 10

ANOther26 says...

The decision made regarding Walton Hall is meant to be based on what is best for the people of Walton and surrounding areas. Is it honestly the best thing to shut the hall and turn it into a hotel? I think the honest answer would be no and if you ask the locals i they would agree.
The decision made regarding Walton Hall is meant to be based on what is best for the people of Walton and surrounding areas. Is it honestly the best thing to shut the hall and turn it into a hotel? I think the honest answer would be no and if you ask the locals i they would agree. ANOther26
  • Score: 0

2:03pm Wed 23 Jun 10

richiepooh says...

The council states in its mandate that it applied for a grant to pay for restoration of the glasshouse from the NWDA which was turned down prior to exploring the private investor option...However a request under the freedom of information act to the NWDA about the the application comes back that they have no record of it.Care to explain that?
The council states in its mandate that it applied for a grant to pay for restoration of the glasshouse from the NWDA which was turned down prior to exploring the private investor option...However a request under the freedom of information act to the NWDA about the the application comes back that they have no record of it.Care to explain that? richiepooh
  • Score: 0

10:12pm Wed 23 Jun 10

grey_man says...

Make of this what you like. Sounds familiar.

http://thechestershe
af.blogspot.com/2007
/11/so-farewell-then
-andy-farrell.html
Make of this what you like. Sounds familiar. http://thechestershe af.blogspot.com/2007 /11/so-farewell-then -andy-farrell.html grey_man
  • Score: 0

11:37pm Wed 23 Jun 10

Reader says...

Seems funding applications are a bit of a mystery when it comes down to Walton Gardens. Not only that but it appears that WBC apparently haven't even bothered to consult/ask English Heritage for their view or whether the suggested development plans are permitted either. As all the buildings are grade listed you would have thought that would be their first port of call !! Saying that once a listed building is deemed to be UNUSED then English Heritage are rather more 'willing' to 'allow' alternative use rather than see buildings just sit there and fall into a state of disrepair. Is that why there is the sudden need for vacant possession and the closure of buildings when there is over 6 months to go before any formal planning application? Shame on you WBC for all your 'little white lies', lack of accountancy skills (or should we say 'inacuracies') along with your complete and lack of insight, will or vision for retaining the 'jewel' as part of YOUR 'crown' (even though it is not really yours) but 10/10 for your persistence and determination in trying to prove you are right even when it's blatantly obvious that once again you are just offloading your elected responisibilites regardless of what the public want and once again you will probably be proved to have been completely WRONG !! TOO LATE THEN IT WILL HAVE BEEN LOST FOREVER !! Thanks :(
Seems funding applications are a bit of a mystery when it comes down to Walton Gardens. Not only that but it appears that WBC apparently haven't even bothered to consult/ask English Heritage for their view or whether the suggested development plans are permitted either. As all the buildings are grade listed you would have thought that would be their first port of call !! Saying that once a listed building is deemed to be UNUSED then English Heritage are rather more 'willing' to 'allow' alternative use rather than see buildings just sit there and fall into a state of disrepair. Is that why there is the sudden need for vacant possession and the closure of buildings when there is over 6 months to go before any formal planning application? Shame on you WBC for all your 'little white lies', lack of accountancy skills (or should we say 'inacuracies') along with your complete and lack of insight, will or vision for retaining the 'jewel' as part of YOUR 'crown' (even though it is not really yours) but 10/10 for your persistence and determination in trying to prove you are right even when it's blatantly obvious that once again you are just offloading your elected responisibilites regardless of what the public want and once again you will probably be proved to have been completely WRONG !! TOO LATE THEN IT WILL HAVE BEEN LOST FOREVER !! Thanks :( Reader
  • Score: 0

1:37pm Thu 24 Jun 10

LJ says...

I am disgusted with WBC. I remember as a child growing up in the 60's in Newton-le-Willows, we used to visit Walton Gardens once a week in the evening in the summer. Mind you, the car park was free then. I went on an escorted tour of Walton Gardens a few weeks ago and saw parts of it I never knew existed - like the indoor riding school - left to rot, of course. Walton Gardens has huge potential to make money but WBC don't know how to do that, all they know is how to lie.
I am disgusted with WBC. I remember as a child growing up in the 60's in Newton-le-Willows, we used to visit Walton Gardens once a week in the evening in the summer. Mind you, the car park was free then. I went on an escorted tour of Walton Gardens a few weeks ago and saw parts of it I never knew existed - like the indoor riding school - left to rot, of course. Walton Gardens has huge potential to make money but WBC don't know how to do that, all they know is how to lie. LJ
  • Score: 0

1:56pm Thu 24 Jun 10

richiepooh says...

I'm not just for keeping Walton gardens as a trust in the way former councils have managed it for sixty years...which shows a complete failing with the current "trustees" in that they can no longer do this.
I call for the resignation of all those who have lied,manipulated and had any association with the accountancy and progression of the sale without public consent and consultation. The mere effort and expense that has already been invested into this sale behind the scenes along with the clearly manipulated figures to show this heritage as a burden rather than an asset is a misplacement of public trust and an abuse of their privilege.
I'm not just for keeping Walton gardens as a trust in the way former councils have managed it for sixty years...which shows a complete failing with the current "trustees" in that they can no longer do this. I call for the resignation of all those who have lied,manipulated and had any association with the accountancy and progression of the sale without public consent and consultation. The mere effort and expense that has already been invested into this sale behind the scenes along with the clearly manipulated figures to show this heritage as a burden rather than an asset is a misplacement of public trust and an abuse of their privilege. richiepooh
  • Score: 0

2:56pm Thu 24 Jun 10

grey_man says...

I ahve communicated with two local councillors and while they have said they will wait to see what the public will say, it is obvious that there is a closing of ranks on this given that they won't address any specific questions about what is going on. The whole thing is such a disgrace that they really don't want to face up to the facts coming out about what they are up to. Shame on them all.
I ahve communicated with two local councillors and while they have said they will wait to see what the public will say, it is obvious that there is a closing of ranks on this given that they won't address any specific questions about what is going on. The whole thing is such a disgrace that they really don't want to face up to the facts coming out about what they are up to. Shame on them all. grey_man
  • Score: 0

5:01pm Thu 24 Jun 10

LJ says...

Well said Richiepooh. It amazes me that there is only one contender for Walton Gardens, and makes me wonder, with everything thats going on, if back-handers have taken place.
Well said Richiepooh. It amazes me that there is only one contender for Walton Gardens, and makes me wonder, with everything thats going on, if back-handers have taken place. LJ
  • Score: 0

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