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Council Hand-Pick Old White Males To Represent YOU On The Martlets Hall Replacement Project

5th October 2017 | Opinion Piece by Peter Chapman

Sexism and Ageism is alive and well at Burgess Hill Town Council as a committee chaired by Cllr Andrew Barrett-Miles have hand-picked some of their mates to represent the community in the 50/50 project to establish a replacement for the Martlets Hall.

Burgess Hill Town Council are under fire after it emerged that they personally hand-picked the six members of the community to form a committee of 12 people to take the Arts and Community building project forward to the next stage.

The council keep claiming that it's a joint effort between themselves and the community to achive the objective, but at no point have the general public openly been allowed to express an opinion or to find a way onto any of the previous working groups and committees.

All the meetings, minutes and reports (all bar one consultant report) have been kept private.

Who is on the new committee
This latest committee to be formed under the leadership of Cllr Andrew Barrett-Miles features six members of the community who are all male, white, and getting on in years.

Of these six, at least three of them already have a close working relationship with the town council

1. Tony Paris - Burgess Hill Lions.
Has regular meetings with the town council officers, occasionally books the Martlets Hall for various events.

2 Steve Willis - Steve Willis Training.
Works closely with the Burgess Hill Lions, sponsoring their events. Has had events at his training centre heavily promoted by the town council.

3. Denis Jones - Former Councillor.

Friend of Chairman Andrew Barrett-Miles. Very old. A disgraceful selection.

4. Burgess Hill Theatre Club Representative
Mature White Male

5. University of the Third Age Representative
Mature White Male

6. Burgess Hill Symphony Orchestra

Mature White Male

Why did Burgess Hill Town Council not select any younger people, women, LGBT or ethnic minorities?

This is descrimination in its finest form, and the equality act of 2010 is a very interesting document.

Surely it should be for the public to choose who represents us?

None of the six community representatives have reported back to the community on what's happening. Why? Things ARE happening.

Additional evidence of a lack of diversity comes from the consultant's report commissioned by Burgess Hill Town Council. Of 167 questionaires, only one was filled out by someone aged between 35-45. There were no respondents under the age of 35. See page 14 of this document here. BHTC didn't do anything else to seek the views of young people.

Burgess Hill Town Council are making a mockery out of community involvement so that they can get the outcome THEY want.

Already the councillors have voted to go ahead with a 250-seat venue (20th March 2017) which is 100 seats LESS than the existing Martlets Hall and well short of the 450 seat venue which Mid Sussex District Council said Burgess Hill would require in the future to meet the needs of an expanding population (before they claimed there was adequate provision at the Kings Church).

The public were not allowed to have a say on the capacity of the building. So much for the project being 50/50 between council and community!

With such a low capacity, touring groups will not come to Burgess Hill as it will not be profitable enough for them. They'll opt to go up the road to Clair Hall in Haywards Heath.

The council's own consultant advised them not to make any big decisions until comments from a much larger sample of the community had been obtained. The town council ignored him and have pushed forward, leaving thousands of local residents ignored.

Burgess Hill Town Council are in real danger of building a white elephant that'll see little use and not meet the cultural needs of the public. It's going to cost £5 million and the council are already earmarking funds originally put aside for community buildings on new housing estates, instead seeking to plough it all into the one facility. It'll leave new communities without.

They are making a complete hash of this project with no real vision of what's really needed.

£390k down the drain as this building needs to be flattened by BHTC without them ever using it because they *may* build a small modern venue in the future, some time...

Let us not forget, these councillors are the ones who did nothing to stop MSDC dispensing of the Martlets Hall when over 6,000 people were telling them it was still needed! They stood up at a meeting and said our town didn't need such a facility, yet have done a u-turn fearing they'll lose votes at future elections due to the stength of feeling from residents. Shame they didn't get a single penny from the retail developer in exchange for the facility.

It's also a shame they won't work with the residents who were in the right all along.

There are many qustions that Burgess Hill Town Council CEO Steve Cridland and Chairman Andrew Barrett-Miles need to answer.

Steve Cridland and Andrew Barrett-Miles

Spread the word! The council are anti-equal opportunities as only white old men are selected to represent the community.

Got an opinion on this story? Leave a comment below.....
What do you think of Burgess Hill town council loading the committee with senior white males without letting the public decide who should represent us?

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