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UNBELIEVABLE INCOMPETENCE - Burgess Hill Town Council Find A New Way To Fund A Replacement Performance Venue - Months After Narrowly Losing The Public Vote For A £9.6 Million Loan!!!

24th June 2018 | By Peter Chapman

Truly unbelivable news coming out of Burgess Hill Town Council this weekend as the local authority have now found a way to fund a new community arts and performance centre without having to put up the council tax.

In February, the council presented an 'all or nothing' ultimatum vote whereby they asked the public if they'd be prepared to see their council tax bills soar in order to pay off a loan worth £9.6 million over 50 years to replace the Martlets Hall. This after the district council gave away the venue to a private developer in order to build a hotel with no interest in replacing the venue themselves. Our Conservative councillors supported the disposal of the venue.

As it turns out, the 'NO' vote winning by just 13 votes against the £9.6 million loan was the best thing to happen for this town as it has forced the town council to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new solution... and they have.

It begs the question: WHY on earth did they not present the cheaper option in the first place? They said previously if the public didn't back to £9.6 million proposal, then we'd not see a new community venue in many people's lifetimes! Heads must roll for this whopper.

Outsiders Show Up Council Incompetence
After the public vote for the £9.6 million loan was lost - along with all the kudos that the Burgess Hill Conservatives thought they could gain from securing a loan - they finally relented and let some of their unelected political opponents from Labour and the Liberal Democrats join the steering committee, ones with experience in these matters.

Isn't it amazing how in just four months, a new proposal has come forward that won't see an increase to our council tax bills?

It makes you wonder what other poor financial decisions have been made at the council for the past 3 and a half years where the Conservatives occupy all bar 1 of the 18 seats. It just goes to show that every council needs a mix of representatives in order for there to be proper scrutiny.

Maybe the public will feel the need to correct this in May 2019 at the next town and district council elections?

How The New Venue Will Now Be Funded

The council will look to raise £5 million for their new project by attemping to find £2 million from grants and other external sources of funding while also looking at taking out a public works board loan, but this time for £3 million (£5.7 million to be repaid over 50 years)

The council would be able to meet the repayments in the short-term by dipping into existing reserves and through efficiency savings. Over the medium-term, with lots of new homes being built in the town, the amount of Council Tax received by the council will grow and be able to be used to cover the loan repayments before the reserves run out.

The issue with this strategy is that if the new houses aren't delivered quick enough, then the council won't be able to meet the repayments.

By going 'All In' on a new venue for the next 50 years it also means that the council will have next to no funds to take on any other projects.

Further Discussion
The Council are set the discuss this financial proposal in more depth this Thursday evening with the amazingly late start time of 8pm. That's two hours later than most key area group meetings and is taking place during the England vs Belgium World Cup game. It's almost like this is deliberate so that members of the public won't be there to scrutinise them.....

Spread the word, the council have found a new way to fund a new community venue

Got an opinion on this story? Leave a comment below.....
Do you think the council's financial plan to fund a new community venue is a good one?

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