THREE years after the sudden closure of the Corn Exchange, when an inspection found a series of problems with the building, we are delighted to report that work has begun to bring it back to life.

It has been a long and difficult road to reach this point, with the discovery of asbestos earlier this year further delaying progress, but arts and community groups can at long last make plans to use the venue again from the middle of next year.

And with the prospect of extra facilities to come, if the town council can secure funding for an extension, prospects for the Corn Exchange’s return to a central role in the life of Witney are brighter than for some time.

However, the fact that it has taken three years to reach this point is a sobering reminder of the scale of the problems that had been allowed to develop.

Historic buildings inevitably need long-term care and maintenance and, while we live in financially-straitened times, with little prospect of purse-strings being loosened any time soon, local authorities need to remember that putting off remedial action can create bigger problems in the long run, with taxpayers having to pick up the bill.