Nottingham

Sale of Gilstrap Centre in Newark opposed

The Gilstrap Centre at Newark Castle
Image caption The building at Newark Castle was given to the town by Sir William Gilstrap

Campaigners are fighting to stop the sale of a Grade II listed building that was gifted to the people of Newark.

The Gilstrap Centre was given to the town by Sir William Gilstrap in 1883, to be used as a public library.

Newark and Sherwood District Council said it was proposing to sell the building because it cost too much to run.

But campaigners have argued the authority does not have the right to sell it.

The building currently houses a gallery, a history exhibition and a tourist information centre.

But the district council wants to sell the building to Nottinghamshire County Council, which plans to turn it into a registrar's office.

The Gilstrap Centre is held in a charitable scheme for which the council is the trustee.

'Seek consent'

Set up in 1990, the scheme states that the building should be used as an educational centre with part of it permitted to be used as a tourist information centre.

The district council said the Gilstrap charity would be in deficit if it had not been for the authority's contributions to maintenance costs and therefore said it was appropriate to seek consent for sale from the Charity Commission.

But Adam Towler, from Friends of Newark Castle and Gardens, said: "Once Nottinghamshire County Council own it, it's outside the Trust and therefore can be used for any purpose whatsoever, it could become a cafe."

Campaigners said moving the information centre may also damage tourism in the area.

But the district council said it was confident changing the building into a registrar's office would increase visitors to Newark.

Councillor Roger Jackson said: "Hopefully it will encourage people to come to get married in Newark, especially with the background of the castle and its gardens for the wedding photographs."

A public consultation will be held on Friday to discuss the future of the centre.

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