MALVERN Town Council decided narrowly this week to support Malvern Hills Conservators' plans for St Ann's Well.

At Tuesday's meeting of the council, members voted 7-6 in favour of a notice of motion brought by North Malvern member Adrian Ward, calling on the council to "support the action taken by Malvern Hills Conservators to develop a visitor centre and improve the refreshment facilities" at the well.

Coun Ward said: "I believe the Conservators need our support.

"St Anne's Well is placed between the town and the hills, and it should be run for the benefit of both residents and visitors. This building is in heritage terms at the heart of what Malvern is about, the basis of the whole Victorian spa town.

"We harp on about rebuilding the cafe on the beacon and building a funicular railway, but we really know that's not going to happen in a long time, if ever. St Ann's Well is a fantastic site and if run professionally it could be wonderful."

But coun Alistair Macmillan urged the council not to declare support for the Conservators until more was known about what the board planned for the well site. "I'm afraid that it will end up as a lame-duck enterprise that will end up being supported by the taxpayer," he said.

A vote on Coun Macmillan's amendment for deferral was a tie, with seven votes for and seven against. Normally a tied vote is decided by the chairman's casting vote, but chairman Paul Tuthill had declared an interest as a Conservator board member at the start of the meeting, and was barred from voting. The vote on the substantive motion was then taken.

The plans, revealed in the Gazette early last month, will mean that John Redman, the café’s tenant for nearly two decades, will have to leave when his lease comes up in six months’ time. Supporters of Mr Redman set up a facebook campaign opposing the changes. This has attracted thousands of members.