WORK to turn Ashbourne Town Hall into a visitor information centre has run over budget by more than £30,000.
At a recent meeting of the full town council members of the council’s financial committee stepped in to bring the project closer in line to its original £60,000 budget and settled on an over-spend of £16,000 to accommodate essential work required to transform the building’s main hall into a tourist information centre.
The working group, made up of town councillors, that was set up to oversee the project reported at a meeting on Tuesday last week that the overspend was due a tight timescale for finding a contractor and agreeing on a cost before the completion deadline next month.
Group members explained that an extra £10,000 was required to finish the decorations and fabric of the building, £6,000 to install a stair lift and another £15,000 to complete the main hall.
Ashbourne Town Council had originally set aside £50,000 for the project and Derbyshire Dales District Council has pledged a donation of £10,000 - but the cost was looking to run to around £91,000.
Councillor Denise Brown, who chairs the finance committee, told the News Telegraph: “As things stand at the moment the extra £31,000 just isn’t there and if it’s not there then where do we get it from?
“I’m not comfortable with releasing funds from next year’s budget to pay for the overspend, especially with a quarter of the financial year to go.
“I think when you’re spending large amounts like that, out of public money it needs to be broken down in to stages.
“The town hall has suffered from three years of neglect and it does need to be brought back up to scratch but it can be done a little slower without us having to worry about where the money is coming from.”
Councillor Paul Doran explained that the tight time-frame made it difficult to agree on a final figure with the builders before the work began and that the project’s architect, town councillor Darren Archer, would now work with the builders to identify areas where savings could be made.
He also explained there was money left over from maintenance funds and other areas of the town council’s budget to meet the agreed £16,000 overspend and finish the job on time.
The new facility will replace the former district council-run Tourist Information Centre in the Market Place and is due to open on Saturday, February 15.