A new reduced offer for Reading’s former Central Club is believed to have been accepted by the council this week.

At a private meeting of the council’s Policy Committee on Monday (September 28), councillors decided whether to accept a revised offer for the former community centre on London Street.

Green councillor Rob White said the council had not re-opened the bidding process for the building despite the reduced offer, suggesting councillors accepted the revised bid on Monday.

Reading Borough Council (RC) has also reiterated its commitment to retaining and restoring the building’s Black History Mural in its current location, after a petition was launched in response to the private meeting and signed by more than 4,400 people.

Historic England is currently considering whether to list the mural.

Cllr White said Labour had “put profit before the community” over the Central Club and mural and called the decision, reportedly accepting the reduced offer, “sad”.

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A RBC spokesman said the “revised offer”, which comes with a “revised scope”, was a result of changes to market conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The meeting was held in private as the financial details currently remain commercially confidential, as per the requirements of the Local Government Act 1972.

RBC has denied claims it will spend £1 million on retaining and restoring the mural but has re-affirmed its commitment to preserving the mural.

A spokesman for the council said the reported £1 million figure was the amount it would have saved if it had sold the building without requiring the retention and restoration of the mural.

Jason Brock, leader of the council, said: “The council has, from the outset, been utterly categorical that Reading’s iconic black history mural – which remains an Asset of Community Value – will be retained as part of any development.

“We are also very clear that this remains the case if the revised scheme is permitted. The same applies to retaining community space as part of the proposed development.

“The mural is a unique and important symbol of Reading’s cultural history which represents Reading’s long history of celebrating different cultures and promoting tolerance.

“It remains of huge importance to the black community, the wider community and the council itself and we, alongside the preferred bidder, are fully committed to its restoration in situ and its long term protection as part of any future development.

“Anyone stating the council does not stand resolutely steadfast in its commitment to protect the mural is simply seeking to mislead the public.”

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The Central Club was a ‘spiritual home’ for the black community in Reading before closing in 2006.

Community group Aspire failed in its bid to take over the property as Reading councillors agreed a 999-year lease with Redline.

Members of Aspire reacted angrily when they realised their bid had been unsuccessful, shouting “shame on you”.

RBC previously offered more than £200,000 to help fund a community bid but had to pull council resources after a failed fundraising campaign.

Several organisations including Aspire have since submitted formal applications to Historic England for the mural to be nationally listed, which have also been backed by Reading councillors.