Prezzo gets approval


At last night’s Northern Area Planning Committee the application to convert Andover’s lower Guildhall into a Pizza restaurant was approved. The plans now have to be referred to the Secretary of State before the changeover can go ahead.

I am disappointed with this decision. The objectors from STAG raised real questions about the validity of the application. The council’s response was muddled and unconvincing. It failed to prove it had followed its own guidelines by seeking to maintain the Guildhall for community use. It could not explain the so-called financial losses cited to justify the decision and it relied on the provision of a substandard alternative as a reason for a clear breach in policy.

I was particularly annoyed to hear some councillors calling for a vote without even waiting to listen to the end of the debate. Andover deserves better than this.

Also of some concern was the claim by some members of the committee that another restaurant in Andover would bring in more business and enliven the town’s economy. My own discussions with local restauranteurs suggest that in the current economic climate there is insufficient business for exisiting restraurants. Any new one would only take clients away from them and could lead to one or more of them folding. I hope this is not the case the council should be protecting local businesses not undermining them.

The measure of a civilised society is how well it cares for its heritage, its local businesses and its minorities. The ruling group on Test Valley borough council have ignored this in the pursuit of short term financial gain. Andover Lib Dems will continue to oppose this short sightedness and work for a fair deal for Andover.

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