Residents from Repton are being asked to consider upping their council tax to pay for the redevelopment of the village hall. The plans would see the current hall demolished and a new one built in its place.
The proposals are set to cost £730,000 in total and Repton Parish Council wants to increase council tax bills in the village to take out a loan of £415,000 to pay for the new hall. More than £300,000 has already been raised by local residents, but the council feels the only way to find the money for the project is to take out a public works loan.
A public works loan is awarded by the government that comes from the National Loans Fund. The Public Loan Works Board issues loans to local authorities and other specified bodies for works in local communities, such as the proposed plans in Repton.
According to the village hall's website, the hall that currently stands in Askew Grove is well past its 25-year design life and one of the columns inside the building is suffering from rot. It has says that the current hall wastes energy and is very expensive to heat.
There was an original village hall in High Street opposite St Wystan's School, but it was destroyed by a fire in 1960. It was then replaced with the current building in Askew Grove in 1973. The hall is run by the Repton Village Hall Management Committee.
Bosses at the hall have said that the current one does not meet standards, as there are no disabled facilities or kitchen and toilet provision and it is not adequate to meet the needs of villagers.
The parish council now wants villagers to decide whether it should up council tax and take out the loan. It has organised a ballot when people can vote on whether they would be happy to see their council tax increased by an average of £20 per year for each household.
A spokesman from Repton Parish Council said: "The village hall management committee has approached us with a request that the parish applies for a public works loan to make up the funding shortfall for the proposed redevelopment of the village hall.
"The repayment of this fixed rate loan would require an increase in the parish precept which residents pay through council tax. The parish council would not be prepared to proceed without a specific mandate and the purpose of the current consultation is to determine whether or not there is sufficient support for funding the shortfall in this way."
In May 2017, the Repton Village Hall Management Committee sent a detailed report of the proposal to the parish council. The report included structural assessments and recommendations for the future. All details of the report can be found on the village hall website.
The spokesman added: "The current exercise is not a consultation on the design proposal but on the principle of applying for a loan to enable the design process to proceed. Should the consultation indicate that a majority are in favour then the parish council will work with the management committee to ensure the best value. This could mean amendments to the scale, design or approach to the redevlopment."
Ballot papers have been posted to local residents, and each household has one vote. The deadline to get votes in is November 15.
Meanwhile, one local man has hit out at the "enormous" cost of knocking down and rebuilding the hall.
Jeremy Dunn, 50, has urged organisers to look at ways to repairing the hall instead. The engineer, who has spent much of his life working on building projects. He claimed: "The hall does not need to be demolished and rebuilt at enormous cost to the village. We can afford a refurbished hall with the funds we have raised already. It will look good and it will last.
"If you found some rot in one of the beams in your house, would you immediately knock it down and rebuild it? No, of course you wouldn't. You would, at least, look into doing some investigation work to see what was causing it and if it could be fixed easily.
"I don't understand why they aren't doing the same thing. This work can be done for much less money and take up a lot less time.