WE WELCOME the news that work to bring Witney’s Corn Exchange back into use later this year is still on track, despite a bid for a £1.8m Lottery grant being turned down.

The town council says it already has the funding in place to go ahead with the first phase of refurbishment work, even though it has yet to sell off the Langdale Hall so it can plough the proceeds into the Corn Exchange.

The sooner this unhappy episode in the building’s 151-year history is brought to an end, the better, so it can once again become a focal point for community events and entertainment in the heart of the town.

More than two-and-a-half years have now passed since its sudden closure, after a safety inspection uncovered a series of problems.

We wish the town council well in its efforts to secure funding to develop the building further in the future – the key aim of the Lottery grant bid – with an extension to provide meeting rooms and space for a museum, but hope that minds will also be focused on the need for a long-term plan to ensure the Corn Exchange – and other community facilities in the care of the council – are never allowed to deteriorate in this way again.

A little expenditure on a long-term basis could have spared the town’s taxpayers from footing the large bill that the restoration work at the Corn Exchange now requires.