Town council could break lease with Charles Burrell Centre
PUBLISHED: 08:49 11 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:52 11 January 2019
The future of a town council’s involvement in a community asset will be decided in secret after councillors voted to exclude the public from the discussion.
Thetford Town Council is the joint head leaseholder along with Norfolk County Council for the Charles Burrell Centre, a community and business hub in the town.
It is understood the council could activate a break clause in the lease which could see Charles Burrell CIC, the company which runs the centre and rents it from the councils, be forced to accept different and potentially more expensive terms on the former school site.
This is due to the fact the sole landlord of the building would become County Hall, which operates an open market rents policy, meaning any lease they offered the centre would be more than the current rent.
However, councillors at Thetford Town Council’s amenities, land and properties committee voted to discuss the lease in private, meaning any decision will not be made in the public domain.
A document seen by this newspaper outlines the main reasons behind any potential decision by the town council to break the lease.
Legal advice within the report states: “Thetford Town Council as tenant are liable for everything under your lease - the greatest risk really is repairs/dilapidation.
“You have passed all those liabilities onto Charles Burrell Centre but it would come back to Thetford Town Council if Charles Burrell Centre defaults/was not worth pursuing.
“The council would need to consider Charles Burrell Centre assets to see whether there is a risk here. The value of the risk all depends on the nature of the default.”
Advice from County Hall included in the paper added that it would seek for a new lease at a higher rate if the town council pulled out.
It states: “The position of Norfolk County Council is that, if the Town Council surrendered the lease – then we would seek for a new lease to be put in place between Norfolk County Council and the Charles Burrell Centre.”