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Norwich campaigners reassured over Silver Rooms plans

Norfolk County Council leader Derrick Murphy.

Norfolk County Council leader Derrick Murphy.

Archant © 2011

Campaigners fighting to breathe new life into a Norwich day centre have been reassured a new policy over the sell-off of council-run buildings will not block their attempt to take it over.

The Friends of the Silver Rooms group have been in talks with Norfolk County Council over leasing the Silver Road building to use it for the community when it stops being used as a day centre.

The county council is next week set to agree a policy which allows groups to buy buildings which are no longer needed by Norfolk County Council.

But that policy, which nods to David Cameron’s Big Society agenda and the coalition government’s Localism Bill, is only for groups which want to buy buildings, not rent them.

However, the group, trying to take over the Silver Rooms, which includes former Norwich North MP Ian Gibson, has been reassured that the new policy will not block their attempt to rent it once the elderly people who currently use it move elsewhere.

A council spokesman said the emerging Silver Rooms arrangement would not be affected by the strategy set to be agreed on Monday.

He said: “There are a number of similar arrangements where groups use council-owned buildings to provide services from, and this would be no different.”

Members of the county council cabinet are being asked to agree a policy for selling buildings when they meet next week.

With the government encouraging community groups and volunteers to run services previously provided by local councils, officers want to establish a way for groups to take control of surplus council-owned buildings.

Derrick Murphy, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “If there is a good business case and a long-term chance of success, then we want to hear from communities.

“Community groups will be supported in fast tracking their business cases, given extra time to ensure their case is sound and importantly will be able to spread the purchase costs over three years.”

Are you trying to breathe new life into a city building? Call Evening News reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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