Residents vote against the Civic Complex in unofficial referendums

Lee Colyer

Plans for the £72million Civic Complex have been given the thumbs down by people who took part in two polls organised by local councillors.

Participating Sherwood residents voted four to one against the controversial project to build new council offices and a theatre bordering Calverley Grounds.

Councillor Frank Williams (pictured) followed the lead of Southborough North councillor Joe Simmons in holding a localised vote to put pressure on their own Conservative-ruled authority.

Southborough North’s earlier referendum saw residents oppose the plans by 342 votes to 86, leading Councillor Simmons to comment: “There is a feeling that politicians are just going to do it.”

Councillor Williams said a new theatre would be of “little benefit” to the people of Sherwood.

“There is so much propaganda about the plan being supported but that is not what I have been hearing on the street.”

His referendum carried out over three weeks saw 113 voting in favour and 452 voting against with a turnout of 11.4 per cent.

Both referendums were undertaken without the blessing of the Town Hall and the result will not necessarily sway the council’s decision.

Councillor Williams believes that the ‘astonishing’ result gives council leaders a “moral” obligation to reject the project.

Councillor Simmons said Southborough North residents were frequently unaware of the issue and that 13 per cent participated.

“It’s not a massive response but is adequate for a sample. There might be a disenchantment generally.

He added that he was undecided about the issue, but will now vote in accordance with the wishes of the majority of voters.

“Twenty five councillors voted against doing so, eight voted in favour.’

Both referendums asked residents ‘Do you support the Civic Complex?’ and were paid for by the councillor’s own expense.

A Borough Council spokesperson said: “Councillors voted in July against holding a town-wide referendum,” which would cost an estimated £40,000.

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