Town could borrow £300k for Garth roof

Bicester photo comp.The Garth.
Bicester photo comp.The Garth.

PLANS to protect Garth House from further water damage moved forward as Bicester Town Council agreed to investigate borrowing money for a new roof.

The council has agreed to investigate raising money under the ‘prudential borrowing’ rules, which govern UK local authority borrowing.

A benchmark of £100,000 has been set, although recent investigations have revealed the total cost of a new roof is likely to be in the region of £300,000.

Policy committee vice-chairman, councillor Dan Sames, said: “It’s a lot of money but doing nothing is no longer an option.”

Following a structural survey, councillors had considered a number of options including completely demolishing Garth House and creating a new building from scratch, revamping the interior, or improving and extending the building.

“In the current climate, doing more than the basic isn’t a viable option,” said councillor Sames.

“This was the only option open to us, and we’ve got to explore sources of funding that will put the least burden on taxpayer.

“For whatever future use Garth House is going to have, it needs to be watertight and fit for purpose,” he added.

Bicester and District Local History Society has previously supported proposals for Garth House to become a Bicester cultural centre once a new civic centre is built in the second phase of the town centre redevelopment.

History society secretary Pete Chivers, who was present at the meeting, said: “It’s one of the iconic buildings of Bicester, and it holds a lot of sentimental value for people in the town.

“It’s also a very pleasant place to go to, being a green lung in the middle of Bicester.

“As a history society, we are keen that it be re-roofed and preserved.”

Garth House and the surrounding parkland was given to Bicester in 1946.

It houses the town council offices, the Bicester CAB offices and the Bicester Registry Office.

The park has won many awards over the years.