A COMMUNITY group in Whitchurch says they are willing to do “whatever it takes” to get Centre North East back in working order.

The Shropshire Council-owned building is currently closed, with repairs to the roof needing to be made.

But Geoff Crowther-Smith, chairman of Whitchurch Men in Sheds says his group – who have been displaced by the closure – are willing to fix the building themselves if supplies are provided.

“We’re all for getting together and fixing it. If timbers are found and there’s no structural damage we will fix it,” said Geoff.

“Whitchurch Men in Sheds are willing to do whatever it takes to fix the building.”

He also believes that plans from Whitchurch Town Council to take over the building is an “ideal opportunity” to get the building back in service.

“It’s an ideal opportunity if Whitchurch Town Council take control,” he added. “The Men in Sheds want to get back in as soon as possible.

His comments came after Whitchurch Town Council voted to hold a public consultation on the future of the building, with plans still technically in place to take control of the building from Shropshire Council.

Those plans have stalled over costs, but councillors have suggested that the building could be repaired by the community at a fraction of the cost.

Councillor Harvey Vasey said that he had recently explored the building and was one of those who suggested that it could be repaired by the community.

“I had the great fortune to visit the building and from the outside I imagined it would be an ordeal going in, but it’s actually a fantastic building,” said Cllr Vasey.

“I think we could do a community effort at a fifth of the cost. I think we’ve got the skills and the heart and the effort.”

Councillors Andy Hall and John Sinnott also expressed issues over figures to repair the building and said the council should definitely look towards using volunteers.

“These costs are ridiculous,” said Cllr Hall. “A lot of the work could be done for a lot less.

“Volunteers in the town have already offered their services. We should be absolutely doing that.

“We should be getting as many people involved in what could be an incredible community effort.”

Meanwhile Cllr Sinnott added: “My issue on this is the resolution was for the clerk to get indicative prices.

“We haven’t got any indicative costs. That’s what we asked for but that’s not what we’ve got.”

But Cllr Ruth Shepard did not think a public meeting was the best way forwards, as in her view, they tend just bring out the ‘loudest voices’.

“A public meeting is not the most effective way,” said Cllr Shepard. “It tends to be a podium for the loudest voice.

“You don’t tend to hear from the quieter, hard to reach groups. I would not be comfortable with a public meeting taking place.”

Cllr Bev Duffy agreed with the views of the room saying she also believed that the costs were high, but that the most important thing was to seek the views of the public.

“I think the costings are massively high, but this is about seeking the views of people in the town who might be using the building,” said Cllr Duffy.

“Rather than a public meeting, maybe in principle we should consult and find out what people want to do with the building.”

At the meeting it was proposed that a public consultation be launched, along with a working group, which would go towards coming up with an effective business plan.