New moves have been made in the “California Civic Centre” dispute between Dunstable Town Council and Mr. Edwin Green. Mr. Green has offered to sell his business, containing ballroom, restaurant, swimming pool, skating rink and sports stadium to the Council.
The Council has set up a special sub-committee to consider the matter.
Explained Mr. Green: “If I am allowed to run my business unharrassed by the Council I will keep on. Otherwise I offer it to them.”
Mr. Green who is quoted by one national newspaper as saying, “anyone would think I had built a stinking chemical works,” says he has been looking at other sites further afield where he thinks his ideas would be met with a little more sympathetically. He plans to start afresh somewhere else if the council accepts his offer. Meanwhile he is continuing to develop his property at Dunstable. This week he announced that the new indoor swimming pool at the centre would be ready for use in about three weeks’ time. And he is preparing to cover the open-air roller-skating rink to convert it into an “international hall for international competitions of all descriptions.”
At a cost of £700 he has bought fittings from the Cresta ballroom and restaurant at Luton, now being demolished. He plans to use the fittings which include doors, windows and parquet flooring, at the California or, if the council buy his business, elsewhere.
He is also planning to build a vast underground car park for 1,000 cars on land on the other side of Whipsnade Road opposite the California. Over this he wants to build a bowling alley, with 24 lanes. Bowling is an American version of skittles, with automatic devices to set up the pins. It is becoming very popular in this country since it was introduced recently.
Mr. Green is negotiating with an American syndicate who may enter into the venture with him. Mr. Green has yet to apply for planning permission for such development. In the meantime he may introduce bowling into his present premises, which, he says, are open for inspection by any member of the Town Council.
Recently complaining that the Council had a lack of knowledge about his establishment, he invited councillors to a dance. His invitation however, did not give the council sufficient notice and only one turned up – Cllr. William Allen.
Mr. Green says the invitation is still open. Councillors can ring up for an appointment, and he will show them round the centre while it is in operation, he states.Dunstable Gazette 26 August 1960
Only one Dunstable Town Councillor turned up at the California Ballroom on Friday. But the Mayor of Dunstable, Ald. Louis Palmer, had previously explained to Mr. Edwin green, who invited the Council to the dance, that his invitation had been received too late.
Last week Mr. Green wrote to the Mayor inviting the Council and the visitors to Porz and Brive to attend the dance. He referred to “a lack of true knowledge concerning my establishment.”
This followed a Town Council meeting at which the “California Civic Centre” was criticised and moves made to stop go-kart racing at the stadium.
The Mayor said this week that he did not tell any of the councillors of Mr. Green’s invitation. “You can’t invite a Town Council to a thing and give them two day’s notice.” He said. “Even if I had sent letters to all the councillors they would not have arrived before the dance. And you can’t have half the councillors going to the dance and the other half unaware of the invitation.”
“If Mr. Green wants the Council to go up there he must send a proper invitation and give us sufficient notice.”
The councillor who did go to the dance was Cllr. William Allen, of Church Street, Dunstable, who said he had been invited to the dance personally by Mr. Green earlier in the week.
“I think Mr. Green has got a very nice place there,” was his comment afterwards. “I think he is providing a great amenity to the town.”
Cllr. Allen said he had spoken to Mr. Green about the appearance of the site and told him that he thought it would be better if he concentrated on tidying it up before developing any further.
The Mayor was able to tell the continental visitors of Mr. Green’s invitation, and they turned up at the dance.
They also visited the stadium on Sunday, where they were allowed to drive karts around the track. Cllr. Allen, who was there reported: “They thoroughly enjoyed it.” He also “had a go” and commented: “I enjoyed it too.”
This week Mr. Green confirmed that the Mayor had told him that the Council would be unable to come to the dance, said: “My personal opinion is that before these councillors rush into discussion, it would be much better if they found out personally what it is like. It is their duty to know if what they say is correct. The only one who has investigated the centre while it is operating is Mr. Allen. The only councillors who have shown the slightest interest are Mr. Allen and Mr. Gurney.”
He said Cllr. R. A. W. Gurney had been shown round the centre on the Sunday after the council meeting.Dunstable Gazette 19 Aug 1960