A cross party alliance of District Councillors have come together against the plans to dispose of the Stroud Subscription Rooms. They have signed a requisition for an extra-ordinary meeting of Stroud District Council; and as many councillors again from all parties have committed their support. It is aimed at halting, and starting a review of, the secretive group which is due to report on December 5th.
Cllr, Norman Kay explained “We are concerned with several aspects of this, not least the proposal to sell off the forecourt of the Sub. Rooms. This has served as Stroud’s town square for over a hundred years. We have questions over the secrecy attached to the deliberations and the absence of recorded minutes which are contrary to good government. There has also been a lack of genuine consultation with the public in the District. Even more important, the discussion and decision should be held at a meeting of the full Council where transparency prevails.”
Cllr. Martin Baxendale added “I have been concerned from the beginning that the “task and finish” group on the future of the Sub Rooms, of which I have been a member, could turn out to be just a bit of public relations window dressing on the way to a sell-off of the building.
Recent events – the way the recommendation on the Sub Room’s future was reached, the unnecessary secrecy surrounding it and the heavy handed attempts to enforce that – have only reinforced that concern.
“Stroud District council now needs to step back from that process, which in the eyes of many people is now seen as tainted and compromised by, among other things, insufficient public scrutiny and consultation. All councillors need to meet at a full council meeting to find the best way forward in seeking the most sustainable future for the Sub Rooms as a public venue and keeping its forecourt as an open public space.
With all of the controversy swirling around it, this issue can no longer be left to a small group of councillors on a committee. We all have to put ourselves on the line and be a part of this vital decision.”
The councillors have called for the meeting to be held after the council’s report has been published – it is expected in the next fortnight- and before the planned meeting of its Strategy & Resources Committee that would make the decision.
Stroud District Green Party strongly opposes any moves to sell off the Sub Rooms. Last Friday, leaders from the party “nailed” their 5 principles for the future to the venues doors, in an echo of the day 500 years ago when Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg. They were joined for the occasion by SW Green MEP Molly Scott Cato (pictured with Cllr. Martin Whiteside) along with Stroud’s Mayor Kevin Cranston.