A GROUP of ghost-hunters has applied for permission to carry out an investigation in Ashbourne Town Hall.
North Staffs Paranormal, a group of paranormal investigators based in Leek, picked out the former market hall in Ashbourne as a base for their next investigation.
The town council's town hall committee was due to meet last night to discuss the idea and chairman Denise Brown said she was confident the committee would approve the request.
She said: "I can't see any reason why it can't be voted in. Personally I'm really excited by the idea and I'd be up for joining them.
"I'd be very keen to see what results they get as I've seen plenty of unexplained things in the town hall in my years as a councillor and at the moment everyone thinks I'm a crackpot."
Councillor Brown, a former Ashbourne Mayor, says she regularly hears from people who have smelt pipe-smoke and recalls one occasion when she saw a man walking past the main hall in a tweed jacket and cap.
She reported the sighting to the caretaker who told her the building was locked up. Her description of the man matches a former caretaker who is believed to have lived in the town hall's upper rooms.
Councillor Brown has also reported sensing a presence in the council chamber toilet, and has heard voices calling her and doors slamming in the building.
She said: "I wouldn't say I believe in ghosts exactly, but I've seen quite a few things I can't explain and I'm keen to keep an open mind.
"I can't wait to see what the investigators experience to see if it matches up to what other people like me have seen and heard."
Paul Harrop, team leader of North Staffs Paranormal, said the town hall is the perfect building for an investigation.
He said: "We were driving through Ashbourne one day and saw the town hall and it just looked ideal.
"It looks like a nice building from the outside and we know there has been a lot of activity there and we know Ashbourne as a town has a lot of history so it seems like somewhere we would love to investigate."
Paul and his team usually arrive at their chosen venues around 8pm and can often stay throughout the night, leaving in the early hours.
He explained that the group liked to enter into an investigation without any prior knowledge of its history, enabling them to build up a picture of its past through any activity they record and experience during the vigil.
In previous investigations the group has recorded footage of shadowy figures, footsteps, unexplained noises and even disembodied voices.
He said: "Every investigation we go into we don't know what we're going to experience and what's going to happen.
"For us we're like a group of children going to Disneyland, we're full of excitement because we don't know what we're going to get."
Paul's fascination in the paranormal began when he was a small child and, at the age of six, he saw his grandmother standing before him three days after she died.
He said: "To me she looked just normal, and I think from that moment on it didn't just fascinate me but I started to get a fascination in anything that can't be explained.
"The paranormal is something that, at all points in life, someone has had an experience of, of some sort, and if they haven't yet they probably will."