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martlets hall burgess hillANGER As Councillor Tells Public To Fundraise £5 Million To Replace The Martlets Hall

30th April 2017

Residents of Burgess Hill were left seething at the annual town meeting after they were told that they would need to fundraise £5 million to replace the Martlets Hall. It's one of the most scandalous 'acting after the horse has bolted' situations you'll ever come across.

Before the town centre redevelopment was rubber-stamped, NewRiver Retail and Mid Sussex District Council commissioned a study to prove that the Martlets Hall was no longer needed and that other venues in town could accommodate the various community groups and performance artists who pass through the town.

The findings were venomously disputed by the public, and a petition calling for the council to either retain or replace the Martlets Hall was signed by over 6,000 people - a number far greater than those who voted in favour of the town's Neighbourhood plan.

Not once during the dispute did Burgess Hill's Conservative Councillors speak out at council meetings in support of the public. When the petitiion triggered a full debate at the Mid Sussex District council, what followed was a procession of councillors reading out pre-written statements and a final resolution to do nothing!

Councillors sitting in the front row at the Annual Town Meeting - where the truth started to unwind!

Acting After The Horse Has Bolted
Following NewRiver Retail and Mid Sussex District Council reaching an agreement for the Martlets Hall to be demolished with no replacement or financial donation to be made towards its replacement, Burgess Hill's Conservative councillors have now decided to act once the horse has well and truly bolted!

Using public money, the town council commissioned a consultant (DCA Consultants) to put together a report to see if an arts/entertainments and civic building was required in the town to meet the needs of the community. Guess what?.... The report concluded that the town DOES need a replacement as the other current venues can't offer what the Martlets Hall had.

Proposed New Venue To Be SMALLER Than The Martlets Hall

The consultant's proposal is to build a venue SMALLER than the Martlets Hall, providing a 250 seat auditorium instead of the approximate 350 seat hall available at the Martlets. This at a time when our town's population is about to grow from 30,000 to 45,000 over the next 20 years.

The Martlets Hall - Doomed To Demolition Without A Replacement

No Money To Build A Replacement
Now here's the real kicker..... it's going to cost £5 million to build and there is NO MONEY to pay for it! The Consultant told the audience at the annual town meeting that usually a developer would make a donation but in this case NewRiver Retail aren't offering a penny. The noises from MSDC are that they aren't interested in providing a replacement, ever - which is understandable as they backed the report that claimed a replacement wasn't needed.

The Consultant's report references the potential for grants from national bodies, but the outlook is NOT good....

The traditional funder of arts centres, Arts Council England, has reduced capital
funds and is tending to focus them on maintenance and improvement of its existing
funded organisation portfolio. Although smaller amounts (up to £500,000) may be
secured from its small capital grants scheme, major grants are harder to secure.

A significant funder of arts facilities when they are delivered as new uses for
heritage buildings is Heritage Lottery Fund, but it seems unlikely that a new
development in Burgess Hill would be realised in this way.

Don't Worry... Cllr Andrew Barrett-Miles Says The Community Can Fundraise The Required £5 Million!!!
The final insult to the public in this debarcle is that Cllr Andrew Barrett-Miles has told the community groups and members of the public to go out and fundraise the £5 million. He said he is sure that it can be achieved if they want it to happen..... this from the man who sat back and didn't do a thing to speak up for the people or to question the original report which said that a Martlets Hall replacement wasn't needed.

We're not talking about needing £5k or £50k here, this is a project for FIVE MILLION POUNDS. How on earth would the community manage to raise that kind of money any time soon so that the loss of the Martlets Hall isn't felt? The answer is that it is near-impossible..

Your Councillors Do Not Work For You

Councillors are supposed to represent the public and speak up for us and the town, but they all rolled over and let their political masters of the Mid Sussex Conservative party call all the shots as once again Burgess Hill loses a well-used, vital facility, while Haywards Heath (as always) gets to keep their facilities.

On Thursday May 5th, Cllr Andrew Barrett-Miles is asking for your vote to keep him as your County Councillor for Burgess Hill North. Has he really acted in the best interests of the people and Burgess Hill?

There's Another Choice For The Public
There is an alternative, vote for Burgess HIll Uncovered's Peter Chapman, your INDEPENDENT candidate for Burgess Hill North. Find out all the information on the campaign by clicking here

peter chapman west sussex county council elections

Spread the word, your councillors are expecting YOU to fundraise the £5 million needed to replace the Martlets Hall

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