Kingston residents petition against “unjustifiable” repurposing of Guildhall

Kingston Council debated a petition from ‘Save Royal Kingston – Save the Guildhall’ which received 1342 verified signatures, in a heated meeting at the Guildhall last Tuesday. 

The petition text detailed how the historic building had survived the Great Depression, World War 2, and the Luftwaffe, but is now under threat by “rapacious regeneration plans” from the council.

“The Guildhall was built to celebrate the power and the history of the Royal borough of Kingston upon Thames. It is our civic centre and the home of our democracy,” said Helen Hinton, presenter of the petition.

“Surely then the Guildhall is something of a treasure? Not according to Kingston Lib Dems it seems.”

Leader of the council Caroline Kerr – who has announced her resignation since the meeting – argued that Kingston locals might benefit from the repurposing of Guildhall.

“What we are proposing does not in any way jeopardise the future of the building […] I myself think that if it were converted to a hotel, it might be possible that residents would enjoy coming here for a drink or a coffee,” she said. 

An aggravated spectator responded from the public gallery: “You’re going to take away our democratic rights and give us a cup of coffee?”

Opposing councillor Ian George said: “This Lib Dem council has gone out of its way for the last few years to keep residents away from meetings […] putting as many obstacles in the way as possible.” 

After debating for over 30 minutes, the council decided to note the petition and will take the public’s opinion into consideration. 

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