Brentwood's community halls - the future

30 Sep 2007
The Old House
The Old House

Councillors were asked to make a decision on the future of our community halls, even though detailed cost, usage and maintenance figures were not provided to them and one of the largest halls in the borough, Keys Hall in Warley, is still under threat of closure by the Conservative administration.

The halls currently operate at a cost of c. 14p each week for each council tax payer, but it seems the Conservatives are determined to offload our facilities and let others take the responsibility.

Cllr Karen Chilvers said:

"As we pointed out, in order to make an informed decision you need to be in possession of all the facts. The proposals included the possibility of selling "The Old House" and putting some of the halls, including Bishops Hall, into shared ownership. We made it clear that we, the Liberal Democrat group, wanted Bishops Hall to remain in council control and ensure that it is well maintained and managed and that we had serious reservations about the recommendation.

"The Old House is also a very emotive issue, given the history of the building. We have been informed that the venue is rarely used, and only one downstairs room is regularly utilised. We know that this is not the case; the upstairs rooms were out of use due to a leaking roof during the summer. As we've come to expect, we have since heard that current users of The Old House have not been consulted and, just like Keys Hall users, read about this in the local paper.

"Not only is this one of the very few places where you can book a small meeting room, a number of our more senior residents use this facility for educational purposes and Merrymeade House, which is where current users would be re-located, is not on a bus route and a considerable walk. We are also not clear on the amount of parking provision that would be provided at the new site."

"It's just another example of railroading decisions through without proper consultation or discussion and, although we voted against it, the Tories (with the help of Labour) out-voted us 9-2.

"This is one of the many reasons why more and more people are turning to the Liberal Democrats to make sure their voices are heard both inside, and outside, the council chamber."