‘Neglected’ council offices are decaying mess

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TAXPAYERS in Holbeach will be footing the bill for “years of neglect” at the parish council offices.

Damp, leaking guttering, rotting fascia boards and damaged roof tiles are just a few of the problems at Coubro Chambers (pictured) which will need “a large sum of money” to be fixed.

The extent of the damage was revealed at Holbeach Parish Council’s meeting on Monday, as councillors were told what a surveyor had found.

Coun Esmond Tearle, chairman of properties, said: “To purchase an old building and then leave it to decay whilst the mortgage is being paid off, and to fail to spend money as and when problems became evident was an extremely bad move.

“Neglect is the word I would use. Neglect over a period of time.

“Now the ratepayers will be the ones to ultimately foot the bill.”

The gutters on the building in West End are said to need “urgent” attention, and may have to be replaced with expensive cast iron because of it being in a conservation area.

Coun Tearle said the surveyor found water had penetrated the masonry and the stonework was now saturated. Once the gutters were replaced the building would need to be left to dry out naturally.

Evidence was also found of structural movement, with a “visible gap” between sections of adjoining brickwork and “significant cracks” in the mortar.

Coun Carol Rudkin, who pointed out further cracks in the meeting room ceiling, called for the building to be sold off.

However, Coun Tearle warned it could not be put on the market in its current state.

“It’s a right mess,” he said.

The guttering and remedial work will go out to tender.

Coun Tearle requested a small group of councillors be given delegated authority to make decisions about the council’s property to “speed things up” in future.

A decision on his request has been put on hold until quotes have been received for the work.

Council chairman Coun Rita Rudkin said: “What a blow. We must all pull together and be aware of our obligations to our ratepayers and the people of the parish.”