Letchworth residents pledge to save community hall
A MEETING held last night (Tuesday) to discuss the future of a community hall saw a town’s residents vote overwhelmingly in favour of saving the facility.
When asked to vote on whether “this meeting is opposed to the closure of Brotherhood Hall and calls on North Hertfordshire District Council to actively promote the hall”, 34 Letchworth GC residents voted in favour, with none against.
Former chairman of Letchworth Garden City Council Philip Ross made the initial proposal at the meeting after issues surrounding the hall - which could close as part of a new NHDC strategy currently under consultation - were debated by residents, as well as town and district councillors.
Mr Ross’ proposal was then successfully amended by Cllr David Kearns of NHDC to also call upon the district council to promote the hall in Gernon Road.
Chaired by Letchworth Garden City Council councillors Ian Mantle and Frank Lovett, the meeting at the town’s The Settlement was called under the Local Government Act 1972 by resident Pauline Worland.
Speaking at the meeting, Mrs Worland, who runs Cheap as Chips at the hall, a Thursday food service for the vulnerable, said: “I am very passionate about this and I would like to set up a campaign group to prevent the closure of Brotherhood Hall.
“Vulnerable people who come every week don’t want to go elsewhere. The central government says we should be community minded but look what’s happening.”
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Members of community groups such as North Herts Voluntary Service and Letchworth Garden City Band, who both use the hall every week, also spoke to highlight their concerns about finding alternative accommodation should it close.
Responding, NHDC’s Cllr David Levett said: “There’s nothing in that strategy that says Brotherhood Hall will close. There are no plans to close it however it is an expensive facility to run and it’s very heavily subsidised by the tax payer.”
Cllr Levett cited examples such as Hitchin Town Hall, where NHDC has worked with the community to formulate plans to revitalise the hall and incorporate an integrated museum, and Baldock Town Hall, where discussions are currently ongoing, as a way in which the community could keep the hall open if it can not be sustained by NHDC alone.
He added: “If a community thinks a hall is valuable then please come forward with your plan and we will see if we take something forward on it. Hitchin has done that so come on Letchworth you can do it too.”
The meeting will form part of the ongoing consultation, which runs until August 18.
Residents were encouraged to also attend the Letchworth area committee meeting at the council’s offices at 7.30pm on Wednesday, July 20, to have their say on the matter.
To view the Community Halls Strategy on NHDC’s website click on the link at the top right of the page.