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Wetherspoon wants Magistrates' Court building
4:20pm Wednesday 13th March 2013 in News
POPULAR pub chain JD Wetherspoon has announced it is interested in turning the old Magistrates’ Court building in Grays into a pub.
Thurrock Council announced last month it plans to spend £2million turning the iconic building into offices, but the Gazette can exclusively reveal JD Wetherspoon is keen to move into the town and take over the neglected court builidng.
But the JDW group, which owns more than 800 pubs around the UK, said the council refused to discuss the possibility of the company acquiring the site. The firm first approached the council eight months ago, but heard nothing and is now calling on the authority to open talks.
Eddie Gershon, spokesman for JDW, said: “We as a company are extremely keen to move to the town and have a look at this building.
“Converting into office units would sadly preclude the historic building from being open to the public. A JD Wetherspoon would bring vitality to Grays and provide a significant number of new jobs.
“We would like to have a look at the building, but that hasn’t been facilitated by the council.”
A report put to the council’s cabinet last month claimed a number of options for the future use of the building had been explored, but converting it into offices was recommended as best and approved.
A council spokesman said: “The former court building is a prime site in the town. The council considered Wetherspoon’s pub option along with several others, as outlined to cabinet in February.
“After this consideration it was decided the best option to bring the whole building back into use was to invest in creating room for new start-up businesses.”
Conservative councillor for the Little Thurrock Blackshots ward Ben Maney said: “In principle I would be very sympathetic to the idea of JD Wetherspoon coming to Grays town centre.
“If we are going to attract people back to Grays we must have the shops, outlets and attractions which ordinary people want, not just betting shops and fast food takeaways.
“JD Wetherspoon is a reputable company which caters for all, including families.
“I think it would be a welcome addition to Grays town centre and could provide a quality outlet. The former Magistrates’ Court would be ideal.
“The council can talk about regeneration until it is blue in the face, but unless it gets big name businesses like Wetherspoon onside, any future plans will be just another useless exercise.
“I am very disappointed Thurrock Council is not at least talking to JD Wetherspoon.”