Letter: Alarmed by lack of replacement

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I am writing to you to express my deep concern at the decision of Burgess Hill Town Council not to adequately plan for a replacement to the Martlets Hall should it be demolished as part of New River Retail’s development plans.

A modern arts facility in Burgess Hill was always factored into the plans for a redeveloped town centre and to be scheduled in so that there would be a seamless transfer from the Martlets to a new centre.

It, therefore, beggars belief that the Tory Councillors in Burgess Hill are prepared to surrender this laudable position for the sake of private development.

I am a significant user of the Martlets Hall as a promoter of events and am fully aware of its failings as a venue. However, in the absence of any alternative it is the best public venue available and there is nothing else in Burgess Hill of similar size or with similar facilities to cater for the events I, and many other promoters and organisations, stage. Relegating the provision of a replacement facility into some vague “future hope” (as a Tory Councillor has suggested) provides me, and I am sure many others, with no comfort or assurance whatsoever.

I am further deeply concerned that the Council has reached this decision without any engagement with community groups and promoters and consider this stance to be unreasonable, irrational and probably capable of judicial review. We need a full, open and honest debate about the development of the arts and arts facilities in Burgess Hill and not the “behind closed doors” stitch up in which the town’s Tories are engaging.

Robert Eggleston

Liberal Democrat Town Councillor