Saffron Walden Town Council: Decision on historic table

Saffron Walden Town Council's Chamber and large table with chairs

Saffron Walden Town Council's Chamber and large table with chairs - Credit: submitted

The town council chamber's historic table and chairs will be kept for now, a meeting of Saffron Walden Town Council has resolved, overturning an earlier decision.

The Assets and Services Committee had made the original ruling, then received the item back on their agenda for further consideration following March's full council meeting.

Public speakers Mike Hibbs, Jim Ketteridge and Simon Trimnell had raised questions about the decision to dispose of the council table's table and chairs and asked councillors to revoke the decision.

Front page of Saffron Walden Reporter, March 17, 2022. Headline reads: Historic table fears raised.

Saffron Walden Reporter's front page on the historic table from March 17, 2022 - Credit: Archant

The table is believed to have been purposely built in situ for the Council Chamber in 1879. The full council heard the table would have been used for discussions on the first electricity supply in town and other significant early 20th century utilities, and existed through two World Wars and six monarchs.

The three speakers were told the issue could not be overturned by the full council but would be sent back to the committee that had made the decision.

At the latest Assets and Services Committee meeting, councillors reconsidered the issue and three speakers addressed the committee, stressing the importance of the furniture.

Councillor Heather Asker said there was insufficient space in the room for councillors and members of the public and noted that councillor numbers will rise from 16 to 18 from May 2023. 

Cllr Asker proposed that the furniture could be retained but held elsewhere for members of the public to use, perhaps the library or museum. 

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Cllr Arthur Coote said the furniture was not a suitable size for town council business. Cllr James de Vries agreed that a decision should be made as part of a larger plan.

In an amended motion proposed by Cllr Barbara Light and seconded by Cllr Arthur Coote, the committee agreed not to dispose of the items currently held in storage. Its future use and placement is subject to agreement at a future date.

The minutes from the meeting were noted at Monday night's full council meeting (April 11).