Historic Filton building wins reprieve

Filton’s Conservative councillors have welcomed a decision by South Gloucestershire Council’s property chief to put on hold the planned sale of Conygre House in Filton.

Following a series of meetings with Filton’s Conservative councillors and the Save Conygre House campaign group, South Gloucestershire Council’s property chief, Cllr Allan Higgs, has agreed to put on hold plans agreed in 2005 by the Filton Labour Party to sell the building to allow time for more detailed proposals to be worked up by the community.

The temporary reprieve for Conygre House comes after the building was included on a council property disposal list that was agreed in February 2005 in order to fund the council’s ‘Accommodation Strategy’ – a reorganisation of the council’s property portfolio.

The minutes of 14th February 2005 Cabinet meeting, which decided the plans, show that a Filton Labour councillor voted in favour of selling Conygre House – a move that raised no public objections from Filton’s other two then Labour councillors.

Conservative councillors for Filton, Brian Freeguard and David Bell, who were only elected in May 2007, have criticised their Labour predecessors for supporting the sale of Conygre House.

Cllr Allan Higgs, Executive Member for Corporate Resources, has praised the lobbying efforts of Cllrs Bell and Freeguard, as well as the Save Conygre House campaign group. He said:

“Cllrs David Bell, Brian Freeguard and the Save Conygre House campaign group have all put forward a strong case for why the council needs to put on hold plans agreed by the previous administration in 2005 to sell Conygre House and instead work with the local community to see if we can come up with something which satisfies everyone.”

In a joint statement, David Bell and Brian Freeguard added:

“It was only after we were elected in 2007 that we discovered that our Labour predecessors had agreed to sell Conygre House.

We are angry about this because Conygre House is a historic local building and should be used to benefit the local community – the Filton Labour Party should never have voted for it to be included it on the council’s property disposal list.

We recognise the difficulty in unpicking a strategy that was agreed back in 2005 by the Filton Labour Party and so we are grateful to Cllr Higgs for listening to our strong case and agreeing to work with us and the Save Conygre House campaign group to see if we can find a way forward that hopefully satisfies both the local community and the council.”

Source: Conservative Group on South Gloucestershire Council