A PROPOSAL that a council should buy an empty town centre building in order to create a hub for local traders has received a mixed response from council members.

Callington councillor Penny Ward would like to see the former Lloyds Bank building – or another suitable premises – transformed into an attractive venue, perhaps with a cafe or restaurant, to be run as a social enterprise, where local producers could sell their goods.

Addressing fellow town councillors, Cllr Ward put forward the possibility of the upper floors of the building being turned into flats, so as to bring the council some revenue.

The proposal is still very much at the ideas stage: Cllr Ward said she would need to speak to Cornwall Council officers to find out the lie of the land around obtaining funding.

While support came in principle, there were many questions and concerns that council members felt needed addressing.

Cllr Karen Gold said that the idea was brilliant but that the council already had premises that it owned “standing empty” that could be used.

Cllr Mark Smith said that a similar idea had come forward a few years ago but that “funding had been the stumbling block”. He supported the idea, but said that a business plan would be needed before moving forward.

Cllr Sharon Brooks, who chairs the finance committee, said that there was “no way that the council is in a position to get into any debt”. Cllr Ward said that the project would look to be entirely grant funded.

Cllr Sue Tolman said that long-term, such a project could be a “really good thing for the town and for giving the town council more independence”. She also pointed out that the town’s Youth Project had just moved into the ground floor of the Lloyd’s Bank building.

On the question of flats, Cllr Eleanor Valdebouze said that the council would need to explore all the legal implications of either being a landlord or of selling property on.

Cllr Ward said: “I think it’s definitely worth having a go. It would be a magnificent achievement for Callington if we could pull it off.”