Mayor John Knight has defended Trowbridge Town Council over concerns about the building and running costs of the revamped Civic Centre.
The council came under fire from some of its own members for reportedly going £700,000 over-budget for the remodelling and refurbishment of the Civic Centre.
The authority has now explained that the cost of the work came in at just under the £5m budget, at £4.9m. Additional money went on consultancy fees and equipment.
Cllr Knight said: “The cost of building Trowbridge’s wonderful new Civic Centre is less than the £5m which was budgeted. “In fact, we have been able to save over £60,000 to add to the additional savings made elsewhere in the town council budget to pay for improvements to the original specification, with better sound and lighting facilities and better furniture.
“The additional costs, such as consultants’ fees associated with the whole project, have been funded from our project reserves and savings made in previous years.
“We have learned lots of lessons since it’s been open, month by month, as we improve. We had a little debacle with the catering issue, but I’m happy to answer any queries about the centre.”
Running costs for the civic centre are expected to be £36,000 over budget for this financial year, which is due to increased costs for operating the bar and catering after parting company with contractor Crown Catering last month following complaints.
Town clerk Lance Allan, who has led the Civic Centre project, said there had been many positives of which to be proud.
He said: “I was a bit surprised with the negative angle of the councillors in last week’s Wiltshire Times, as I think there’s a lot to be positive about and the overall finances are looking healthy.”
Mr Allan said the centre was bringing lots to the town by offering a variety of live entertainment including comedy nights, boxing and as a venue for the Trowbridge Arts Festival, which runs between September 14-30.