Bridlington Town Council is in the advanced stages of negotiations to buy a disused town centre restaurant.
It wants to transform the Pimento’s premises into its new offices, with space for community groups on the first floor. The plans have been kept secret from the public, but the Free Press can reveal the council is divided over the scheme.
A sold sign has appeared on the building in Marshall Avenue, which was on the market for £225,000. It is not known what price has been agreed.
A statement from the town council said: “The town council has no comments to make at this time, due to the legal processes, however the Bridlington Town Council will provide accurate information and a full press release when it is able to do so.”
Some councillors have said they have serious concerns about the project, which will see a huge amount of work needed to turn the 80-seat restaurant into a community venue.
But former mayor Cllr Cyril Marsburg said: “It is an exciting opportunity. Bridlington is growing and the town council needs to grow with it.
“This will create a hub in the town centre and bring an old building back into use. We’ve already had interest from community groups.”
Another former mayor disagrees.
Cllr Liam Dealtry said: “I have been opposed from the beginning, but I have to go with the majority vote.”
“I don’t believe it is going to be fit for purpose for what the town council wants.
“It’s too big for a part-time council. We would need to be a 24/7 council to justify such a big building, not one that opens 9am to 1pm, Monday to Friday. I think the public will have concerns.”
Cllr John Copsey is another opponent of the plan. He said: “I have gone on record as being against this. I don’t approve at all but I have been outvoted. I don’t see why it should not be out in the open, it should be in the public domain.”
If it goes ahead, the move will represent the council’s biggest project since it reformed in 2000.
The £225,000 asking price for the creole grill restaurant is more than the council brings in through tax from Bridlington residents each year.
Formerly Roo’s Steakhouse and Bar, and sited between a tattoo parlour and a sweet shop, it was sold by Harris Shields estate agents.
Their marketing described it as a ‘valuable freehold town centre property’ which has a ‘spacious ground floor restaurant area’ with tiled flooring, oak bar, equipped kitchen, toilets, stock room and store room.
“Part of the ground floor has been sectioned off to create a potential shop unit and planning permission has been granted to create two self-contained flats on the first floor level with access from Marshall Avenue,” it adds.
Cllr Malcolm Milns said he thought the council needed to be in a more prominent location, such as Marshall Avenue.
He said: “There is no doubt that we need a new town council office. We have no disability access and the current office is too small.
“We like the public to come in to meetings but we are not able to have full council meetings there.
“I am in favour of the idea. The finished building will be worth a lot more than we paid for it.”
Cllr Jacqui Foster is also in favour of the plans. “We need our own place,” she told the Free Press.
The other seven councillors either did not wish to comment or were unable to be contacted by the Free Press.
At present, committee meetings are held at the offices in Quay Road and full council meetings are held at the Key Centre, at the back of Christ Church.
The council moved from the Community Resource Centre in Victoria Road to its current office in April 2009.