17/11/2015 - Meeds Ward News
Mid Sussex District Council has appointed New River Retail to redevelop Burgess Hill Town centre.
But that appointment comes at a price -
- Martlets Hall will be demolished, with no replacement planned
- Community groups will lose their meeting places
- The community will lose its main performance venue
And this is despite the Martlets Hall Campaign Group collecting over 6000 signatures opposing the demolition of the Martlets Hall before a replacement is built.
Demolishing the Martlets Hall comes at a price for Burgess Hill
Investment to revitalise our town centre is welcomed by Burgess Hill Labour Party – but losing the Martlets Hall without any agreement to replace it is a step too far.
Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) recently appointed New River Retail to redevelop Burgess Hill town centre. As part of this deal the Martlets Hall has also been handed over to these developers. They have confirmed they have no intention of keeping it or building a replacement centre for arts, entertainment and community activities.
The Council’s decision was taken despite a petition of 6000 signatures supporting the retention of the Martlets Hall until a top-quality replacement is agreed for the town. This view is shared by many organisations that use the hall including the Theatre Club, the local Philharmonic Orchestra, the Ballroom Dancing Club and U3A.
Losing the town’s only purpose-built venue suitable for a variety of community activities, arts and entertainment events is a major blow for Burgess Hill. The Labour Party is deeply concerned that this decision was taken behind closed doors by five Conservative Party Cabinet Members of MSDC just one of whom represents Burgess Hill.
In their own leaflet, the Conservatives admitted the loss of the Martlets was “clearly disappointing” - Burgess Hill Labour Party says this is a weak response from the party whose own councillors failed to use their power at the negotiating table to win a fairer deal for the people of this town.
The secrecy around their discussions about the financial implications of the deal and the future of our town centre - the press and public were excluded from this part of the meeting – is worryingly undemocratic.
In view of the widespread public interest, the Labour Party says such an important decision about Burgess Hill’s future ought to have been taken by the full council with opportunities for interested parties and campaigners to have their voices heard in the council chamber.
Sadly there are now no opposition councillors in MSDC so the Conservatives have no one to challenge their decisions at this level. But Labour is committed to campaigning to make Mid Sussex a better place to live for all and supports the modernisation of Burgess Hill through transparent and democratic decision-making.
Burgess Hill Labour Party believes the Council’s evidence for disposing of the Martlets Hall is unsound and demands that MSDC explains its decision in the face of resounding local opposition. The Council should be demonstrating to Burgess Hill residents that we will get the best value for money from the proposed deal, given New River has had no apparent competition or rival bidders.
- How much is New River paying for the Martlets and library land?
- Will the Council use some of the money from the sale of the Martlets Hall and subsequent development to fund a new arts and community centre for our town?
Burgess Hill is the most populous town in Mid Sussex with 30,000 residents and it is growing rapidly as housing development continues apace.
A town of this size needs and deserves a dedicated arts and entertainment venue that can cater for the interests and tastes of the whole community - and can attract high-quality performances and visitors from neighbouring towns.
What do you think of the redevelopment?
Let us have your views email or phone 01444 246170
Labour in Burgess Hill
The Labour Party did not win any seats in the town or district council elections this year and we lost two seats, where Labour Councillors worked hard for Burgess Hill, to the Conservatives. Despite this, the Labour Party came second to the Conservatives in the General Election with 13.9% of the vote to become the main opposition in Mid Sussex.
We thank the many residents who voted Labour in these elections and we will continue to fight for a better Burgess Hill and to represent the interests of residents in our town.
With the election of Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour Party leader, there is a new style of politics in this country. Jeremy intends that no longer will a select team of leaders decide what is good for the country, but Labour Party members will make those decisions.
Labour - Straight Talking. Honest Politics.