Council bosses are making plans to rent out space at Jarrow Town Hall in a desperate bid to earn extra income, according to Labour sources.
South Tyneside Council have ruled out selling the Grade II listed building but refused to issue a denial that they are looking for prospective tenants.
Jarrow is a town with a lot of history and I don’t think people of the town will be happy to lose it.Labour Source
It is understood the council - which is currently meeting at Jarrow Town Hall while South Shields Town Hall is refurbished - will continue to use the council chamber at the building in Grange Road.
Other parts of the building are, say members of the Labout group, likely to be rented out.
Labour party sources said council leader Iain Malcolm has told local councillors of the plan.
One source said: “The council can’t afford to run two town halls. The council will be moving back to South Shields Town Hall around June and that’s when things are expected to start.
“Councillors in the area have been briefed about this and it is thought some council staff will be relocated.”
Another source added: “Rumours are circulating in the town. They say they aren’t going to sell it but they are going to rent parts of it out.
“They want to try and keep hold of the civic end of it - the chamber - and rent out the rest of the space.
“Jarrow is a town with a lot of history and I don’t think people of the town will be happy to lose it. It is an antique building but. at the moment, it is unmanageable within the council’s budget.”
Jarrow Town Hall was designed by South Shields architect Fred Rennoldson and dates back to 1902.
The building was the starting point of the famous Jarrow Crusade in 1936 which saw around 200 men from the town march to London in a protest over lack of jobs in the area.
A council spokesman said: “There are no plans to sell Jarrow Town Hall. Council assets are only sold off when appropriate, capital receipts generated from sales are used to help fund projects that help boost the economy, providing jobs and opportunities for local people.
“Given the Town Hall’s Grade II listing and its historical importance to the borough it is vital that it is preserved for the long term.”
South Tyneside Council has delivered £126m of efficiencies over the last seven years. But has been hit with a further financial blow and must find another £19m in 2017/18.
New research by the Institute of Fiscal Studies has confirmed that South Tyneside is the third-hardest-hit council in the country.