Town hall meeting request refused

LOCAL arts charity the Blue Flash Music Trust was left confused after a request for a meeting about the future of the old town hall was refused by Horsham District Council.

Last week the County Times reported how council leader Robert Nye said at a meeting although the Town Hall was being looked at as a prospective restaurant, ‘we do not have any problem with other use of the Town Hall’ as long as those who wanted to use it financed it.

Trust spokesman Robert Mayfield wrote to the council requesting a meeting and was promised by chief executive Tom Crowley a reply within ten working days.

“The very next day, however, we received only an email saying that there is no need for a meeting at this stage,” he said.

In the letter Mr Crowley said: “As you know, the cabinet member for efficiency and resources, Ray Dawe, has been asked by the leader to review the matter of the town hall’s future and to consider options for the disposal of the building.

“It is likely that this will involve a report to council on December 21.

“If the council remains committed to the disposal of the building it will probably be on the basis of marketing the building without specifying the use to which it should be put.

“Offers received subsequently would be evaluated to ensure that the eventual disposal decision would represent the best possible result for the Council and the residents of the district.

“I do not believe that a meeting with you at this stage is necessary.”

Mr Mayfield said: “The alleged review of the old town hall situation by the appointed cabinet member appears to us to have been extremely hastily considered and is perhaps lacking any depth therefore.”

Business consultant to the Trust, Martin Jeremiah added: “I’m not sure that any serious review by the cabinet member could be complete without also reviewing the trust’s comprehensive business plan for the old town hall.

“It is also a proposal that is backed by a 200 page, full feasibilty study that was sensibly called for by Horsham District Councils own Old Town Hall Advisory Group in the past.

“As an added bonus, the study has been independently validated by the Faculty of Social & Environmental Studies at the University of Liverpool.

“The Trust therefore remains immediately ready to play their part in implementing such a plan for the benefit of the Horsham community; and so urgently help face the specific challenges to the town that are posed by the current global downturn and difficult economic climate.

“In my view, the taxpayers of Horsham district may not necessarily agree with the council when they say that a meeting with the trust is not required at this stage.”

See comment p10