Essex County Council (ECC) today rejected a call by the Liberal Democrats to require a set number of days per year in which the public could have access to Shire Hall.
The plan had been that voluntary and community groups would be able to use the building's ballroom for a reasonable fee for up to 6 days per year, but even this minimal requirement was rejected by the Corporate Scrutiny Committee, in a secret session after they excluded the press and public.
In addition to the 6 days per year, it was anticipated that voluntary organisations would be able to make use of other parts of the building.
A compelling case was made by Malcolm Noble (Chairman of Chelmsford Civic Society), on behalf of a wide range of voluntary groups in the city who had worked on a proposal supported by a number of Chelmsford Councillors.
The Cabinet Member for Property is now free to dispose of the building on a long lease, as she sees fit.