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Clair Hall Public Consultation - Feedback

December 22, 2021 8:49 PM

Clair Hall Public Consultation - the results are in, But are Conservative Councillors taking them seriously?

What did the public say?

The full report of the firm which carried out the consultation on the Council's behalf can be seen here. The main findings were:

  • There was common view that the Clair Hall site must be retained for community use.
  • Most respondents wanted Clair Hall to be refurbished
  • A significant minority wanted the site to be redeveloped with new community facilities.

What happens next?

The all-Conservative Cabinet of Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) met on the Monday before Christmas to consider the report. They agreed to set aside £100,000 in order to hire consultants to develop 'investment options' for the site.

That's £100,000 on top of the £25,000 legal fees spent trying to defend the illegal closure of the Hall and additional spend on the public consultation exercise.

To put these sums in context, MSDC was spending £35,000 a year subsidising Clair Hall at the time of its closure in September 2020.

Will this get us what we want?

Its very difficult to tell. It appears that this next piece of work will report only to the Cabinet and neither other councillors nor interested parties in the community will be consulted. People will rightly feel suspicious of MSDC's reasons for taking this approach, which is a shame after they were seemingly keen to repair the damage they did when they arbitrarily closed Clair Hall in September 2020.

Already Conservative councillors' Facebook posts seem to be implying that refurbishment of the Hall and redevelopment of the site are much the same thing, downplaying the public's preference for refurbishment of the Hall and ignoring the fact that redevelopment would mean a lack of community facilities for a number of years.

What do the Liberal Democrats think should happen?

Alison Bennett, leader of the Lib Dem Group on MSDC, has said, "If MSDC was a Liberal Democrat council, we would be having serious conversations with all interested groups to ensure that Clair Hall is brought back into use once the NHS no longer require it.

"We fully support the provisions of modern community facilities in Haywards Heath and we do not want to see Clair Hall lie empty. If the options being considered by the Cabinet do not properly examine the case for refurbishing and reopening the Hall there is a very real risk of Clair Hall standing empty for years or for it being demolished and the site left empty.

"You just need to look at what happened in Burgess Hill with the Martlets Hall to see the negative impact this this sort of action can have on a town."