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Council County Refuse To Give Answers Over The Downgrading Of Burgess Hill's New Library

28th April 2019 | By Peter Chapman

Kirsty Lord, Lib Dem County Councillor for Burgess Hill says that she is 'being stonewalled by the Conservative-led council that I sit on' after council officials have failed to meet her to explain what's happening with the town's future library provision.



As part of the plans for the redevelopment of the Martlets Shopping Centre, the town was to have a new modern library, larger in size than the original, which would also have acted as a community hub and provided a much-needed Changing Places Toilet.

These plans have all but been scrapped by the developer and the county council after it was announced by Conservative County Councillors that the 'temporary' library which has been formed by combining an old gift store and hairdressers is to now be the permanent library.

So far, no planning application has been submitted to Mid Sussex District Council by the developer to have a permanent change of use for these retail units

In a statement, Cllr Lord wrote:

You may have wondered why I haven't got back to you about Burgess Hill Library. The truth is I have been waiting for something to happen. But I am being met with silence.

Following Cllr Jones’s comments about the temporary library becoming permanent even though the decision had not been taken and the County Council was still in negotiations with New River Retail, I approached council officers and the Conservative leader of the County Council with questions.

The council leader never got back to me.

Silence.

Officers said they would schedule a briefing meeting for local county councillors. It was scheduled for Easter - a time my calendar showed I was on holiday. I was told they couldn't rearrange because other critical people could only make that date. Despite being the councillor raising the most questions about the library, my presence wasn't deemed essential. I was told I could send in some questions instead.

I made it clear that wasn't good enough and that I should be able to attend to have a proper conversation with officers and other councillors and get answers to all of my and your questions. When I chased the lack of a. new date, I was told it wouldn’t go ahead as the Conservative leader of the council had now taken over the negotiations.

Silence.

At a council meeting on 5th April, in response to a question on the library, the Conservative leader reassured us that Burgess Hill would have a well-stocked library for residents to use. Now, call me a cynic, but this doesn't sound like the state of the art library with a Changing Places facility that was promised, does it?

The leader promised councillors an update “in a couple of weeks”. I emailed her this week, nearly 3 weeks later, to ask her for this update.

Once again, I have received no response.

Silence.

The County Council has been put in a difficult position by one of its own Conservative councillors, but this silence is completely unacceptable. I was elected as your councillor, as your representative, yet I am being stonewalled by the Conservative-led council that I sit on.

I will continue to ask questions and push for an answer. Am I cynical to think that we may get an answer before elections on Thursday if it is a good one, but not until after Thursday if it is bad?

 


Cllr Kirsty Ward, Robert Eggleston (Lib Dem PPC) and Cllr Janice Henwood outside Burgess Hill's smaller 'temporary/permanent' Library.

Spread the word! The Conservative-run County Council are keeping an elected councillor in the dark over plans for Burgess Hill's future library provision

Got an opinion on this story? Leave a comment below.....
What do you think of the Conservatives refusing to speak to and give information to an elected councillor (not from their party) about plans for Burgess Hill's Library?




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