Council decides to close Teversal Grange Country Inn

Councillors at an extraordinary meeting of the Ashfield District Council charities Committee voted for the demolition of Teversal Grange Country Inn last night.

By Kevin Rogers
Thursday, 10th July 2014, 1:48 pm

The authority is keeping the door open for a last minute offer to take over and operate the mothballed club which has been blighted by financial problems and vandalism.

The decision still has to be ratified by the Cabinet and then the full Council, but demolition is due to start in September.

Demolishing the former pub and restaurant is part of a plan to give the Teversal football bowls and cricket clubs their own leases so they can attract funding to build their own facilities.

Speaking at the meeting on Wednesday night Labour councillor Coun Jim Aspinall said the council could not afford the estimated £150,000 needed to bring it up to scratch and there had been no offers to take it on.

Liberal Democrat Coun Jason Zadrozny is opposing the demolition saying the council has not done enough to explore the possibility of keeping it open and attracting potential applicants.

Coun Zadrozny addressing the Charities Committee for the first time, said: “This agenda was a surprise and a disappointment when it arrived last week.

He said the decisions had been made behind closed doors and the three independent councillors had been prevented from being on the Trust.

“It was very difficult for us to find out what was going on, to be supportive or critical.

“It is probably too late to make massive changes but I hope with some debate the council can do that.

“I have represented Teversal since 2007 and the Jewel in the crown is Teversal Grange and the trust.

He said the report was at best short sighted.

He urged the council to put a six month moratorium on the decision to allow potential applicants to come forward to invest and take over the building.

Coun Zadrozny said: “I think the leases for the sports clubs are good but I think you can offer them anyway.

“There’s no need to say you can have the lease if you demolish it, you can have the best of both worlds.”

He said at a council meeting he had been told there had been 14 tenders from businesses or community organisations but had not been told who they were. He added there had not been a transparent bidding process.

“The future of it as a pub is not viable. I would agree with that, but the building could be much more than that.”

If the council chose not to charge business rates it would cost much less for a start up business or a charity.

He said the trust had not advertised for applicants to run the Grange and urged them to try and contact potential owners.

“It doesn’t need to be demolished, the £150,000 for renovations is pretty much of a guess.

“I have spoken to developers in the area who have phoned me up since the newspaper article saying they offered section 106 agreements but the council has not taken up one.

“I have spoken to a further business who is keen to start there talking about rent agreements and potential renovation but the council won’t talk to the about what the future is.

“This is the last opportunity and the wider decision is you don’t see the Grange as it has been. Other businesses and other clubs societies an community groups could come forward as a viable alternative. If you knock it down now you won’t be rebuilding it.”

Coun Jim Aspinall said he had been heavily involved in helping the clubs obtain leases.

Responding to Coun Zadrozny who had said on a petition that ten people putting in tenders or applications at the time of the last approval of the contract for the Grange

There had only been two written applications for the Grange and four other interests, a restaurant business another a businessman wanting to change it to a cycle hire cafe, another wanting to take it over as a pub restaurant and two others neither of whom took up offers to view the premises.

He said “If some one wants to come forward with a grand plan to take it over and operate it as a business, the council will listen to that, but not a lot of people are banging our door down to take over the Grange. Because of council processes not a brick will be removed until the end of September.”

When the Grange did make a profit a lot of the profit was used to maintain the car park and each of the clubs were allocated £2,000 each year for running costs.

When it hit financial difficulties the source of funding had stopped.

He said: “Seven months ago the clubs got in touch with me and asked if I could obtain leases for them. I know this has been a running sore for the clubs for some time.

He contacted Sports England the Football Foundation and the Big Lottery, who told him funding was available

“Teversal Football club is high on the list of priorities of the Football Foundation because of their league and the status they have if their ground needs to be upgraded. Everything is predicated on the clubs having their own leases.”

He said the council had made commitments to the Cricket Club that they would have adequate facilities. The Football Club had plans to develop the ground and pitch.

He added: “I know there is a lot of emotional commitment to the Grange.

“The simple economic fact is that it will take £150,000 to bring it up to standard. If the council did that, what would be the purpose?

“The fact is that next year the council will have a £800,000 cut in its budget. The Rest of Ashfield would not be happy if we spent £150,000 on that building.

“With their new leases the clubs will be able to have brand new buildings which will cost the council nothing as it will be funded from outside.”