PLANS to spend Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding on installing 'raked' seating in Whitchurch Civic Centre at a cost of £60,000 have been called 'foolhardy' by one councillor.

The plans were drawn up by Councillor Scott Radford as a way of boosting the Civic Centre's reputation for hosting quality shows.

Currently the Civic Centre uses chairs placed flat on the ground for the various productions held in the main hall, but there have been criticisms that the nature of this seating can lead to an obscured view.

CIL is a fund that local authorities can use for developments in their area, but traditionally is used more to pay for repairs to streets, pavements, lighting, among others.

However, in his report, Cllr Radford estimated that it would cost more than £60,000 to install the seating, with the aim that the project would be entirely funded by CIL money.

"We already have an existing outline budget of £25,000, plus £25,000 CIL," said Cllr Radford.

"I propose that we use CIL money for the entire project and that we vire the existing budget for other purposes.

"A CIL budget of £70,000 should enable the entire work."

At the town council's September Civic and Cultural Committee meeting, held virtually on Wednesday, September 9, Cllr Andy Hall shared his concerns with the proposal.

As CIL funding is used for community projects, Cllr Hall was worried that the people of Whitchurch would not like to see their money being spent on a project such as this.

"The people of Whitchurch would like to know how we're going to spend this money and how we're going to recoup it," said Cllr Hall.

"There's many, many things we need to look at and due diligence needs to be taken. I think it needs further investigation.

"I also don't believe this committee agreeing to this is in the terms and realms of this committee."

Mayor of Whitchurch, Cllr Bev Duffy, expressed her support for Cllr Radford's proposal saying now was the time to 'stop talking and make some decisions'.

"We need to have a vision for our Civic Centre and we need to have raked seating to achieve that," she said.

"I think the time has come to stop talking and I think we need to start making some decisions.

"All this stuff has been in here for 50 years, now is the time to make it look good.

"People will want to hire it and put on shows."

Her views were shared by Cllrs Simon Hamlyn and Christian Gregory-Peake, who both believed a revamp of the Civic Centre was needed to maximise its potential.

Following the discussion Cllr Hall moved to justify his concerns, agreeing that while the idea was good in theory, the costs were too great.

"I don't want you think I'm against raked seating as I'm not," he added. "Would the people of Whitchurch take blowing £70,000 on this.

"Yes I agree we should revamp the bar and the room, but blowing that amount of money on one item is foolhardy to say the least."

Councillors voted to have the discussion in full council, which will be held virtually on Zoom from 7.15pm.