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Islington Town Hall facelift 'waste of money'

PUBLISHED: 16:55 06 October 2010 | UPDATED: 08:37 16 October 2010

TOWN hall bosses have been accused of wasting more than a quarter-of-a-million pounds on 'tarting up' their own building. A Freedom of Information Act request has revealed that £277,614.12 was spent on revamping the front of Islington Town Hall in Upper S

TOWN hall bosses have been accused of wasting more than a quarter-of-a-million pounds on "tarting up" their own building.

A Freedom of Information Act request has revealed that £277,614.12 was spent on revamping the front of Islington Town Hall in Upper Street.

The forecourt has been made over with what was little more than a drab car park being transformed into a public space with new paving, plants, benches and a vehicle drop-off area.

Islington Council bosses said one of the reasons the work was done was to provide a nicer backdrop for the 1,000-plus couples who get married or have civil partnerships at the Town Hall every year.

But Brian Potter, chairman of the Federation of Islington Tenants' Associations, said: "Surely Islington Council could have spent this amount of money on a more worthwhile project - such as pensioners or tenants' issues, rather then simply tarting up parking spaces?"

The FOI request revealed that £6,979.38 was spent on the work in 2007-8, followed by £246,267.29 in 2008-9 and £24,368.05 in 2009-10.

Because of Government cutbacks, Islington Council needs to save £7million this financial year and a further £70million between 2011 and 2014. Cuts it is having to make include axing 49 education posts.

But it has defended the forecourt revamp. Between 2007 and 2010, the council made more than £1million in income by hiring out the Town Hall for weddings and civil partnerships.

Councillor Richard Greening, Islington Council's executive member for finance, said: "Thousands use our Town Hall each year for weddings, civil partnerships and meeting. We are aiming to attract more events and to do this we need an attractive building and forecourt.

"We are not proposing to add to the money invested by the previous administration in the Town Hall and its forecourt, but we are determined to ensure the money spent produces a decent income for local taxpayers.


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