GILLINGHAM Town Council has agreed to purchase a new site to be used as a workshop for the town.

A loan of almost £350,000 will be used to purchase the Roman Business Centre, at the Peacemarsh end of Le Neubourg Way.

At an extraordinary meeting of the full council, held online on Thursday, June 25, it was “agreed and resolved to seek the approval of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to apply for a Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) loan of £345,000 over the borrowing term of over 23 but not over 23.5 years for the purpose of purchasing Roman Business Centre, Gillingham, to be used as a workshop site for the town council”.

Councillors gave the go ahead, and the annual loan repayments will come to around £19,211.

It is not intended to increase the council tax precept for the purpose of the loan repayments.

It was also agreed to release the £180,000 earmarked in the Town Council’s financial reserves for the purposes laid out in the workshop purchasing budget.

The town currently rents a workshop in the Old Market, but deputy mayor Paul Harris, who made the report proposing the purchase, pointed out that the council would have to renegotiate that lease next year and that the cost would go up.

Buying the new site would actually reduce running costs.

Councillor Harris said: “By doing this we will be running at 13.83 per cent less than what it would be to continue with what we’ve got.”

Councillor Val Pothecary said the purchase is a “damned good idea in principle”, but expressed concerns she had concerns that next year might be “tricky” if the council would have to meet both the last year of the existing lease and the first year of the loan repayment.

Councillor Harris reassured her that they would avoid any impact on the precept.

He said: “The idea is that throughout this precept and the next precept the costs in the precept will only be associated with one site.”

During this meeting councillors also agreed to spend £52,330 on new playground equipment at Marlott Road, where the existing playground had been decommissioned.

Minutes from the meeting state: “The equipment has been used in other play areas in the town and is a high standard of manufacture, and the design of the equipment suits the location.”