Frustration over former Co-op building
Talk about the former Co-op building in Caistor’s Market Square dominated the annual town meeting on Thursday (April 30, 2015).
The meeting at Caistor Town Hall Arts Centre was attended by about. 24 people, with Mayor Steve Millson chairing the meeting.
A short report about the town’s progress during the year was presented by Mr Millson, followed by a report into the town council’s finances, presented by town clerk Helen Pitman. Brief reports about the town’s Sports and Social Club, Town Hall, and parks also followed.
Questions were raised in the public forum about the former Co-op building, with Cliff Rust pointing out that the appearance of the Market Square premises was deteriorating. “It takes up nearly 25% of the square and it is one of the first things that people see when they come into Caistor,” he said.
Mr Rust suggested one relatively low-cost step to improve the appearance of the listed building would be to have pictures put up in the windows.
But the town clerk said the Co-op management had already been approached about vinyls and had not seemed keen on the idea.
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Michael Galligan expressed frustration that the Co-op had not done more to look after the building’s appearance since moving to its present location just off the High Street four and a half years ago. It was affecting the whole town, he said. “We have the florist shop closing and the butcher’s shop closing. What is being done strategically to reverse that process? Ninety per cent of Caistor’s heritage is in its buildings.”
Mr Galligan’s comments were endorsed by Caistor Postmaster Martin Sizer. Another retailer had approached the Co-op about renting some space in the Market Square, but been rebuffed, he said.
“The Co-op aren’t interested in renting it out,” said Mr John Burns-Salmond, who is stepping down as a town councillor this month. “But it’s worth remembering that less than 10 years ago, many buildings in the Market Square were in a similar state. The Town Initiative Grant made many buildings viable.”
Mr Millson said the issue was that the renovation of the former Co-op would cost “millions”. It was possible that a heritage trust might be able to help draw up plans for the premises, he said. “Really, it’s a four or five year project which needs access to grant funding,” he added.
The closure of R&P Favell, the butcher’s shop in the Cornhill, has been confirmed by a notice in its window. The shop will close at the end of May.
A hairdressing business is due to open at the former Abbey Vets premises close to the War Memorial, the town meeting also heard. The vets have relocated to a premises on the corner of Hersey Road and North Kelsey Road.