HAILSHAM: Future of community hall will lie with townspeople

THE people of Hailsham will have the power to decide the future of the town’s Community Hall after a legal clause in the building’s lease came to light.

Wealden District Council wants to use the building on Vicarage Lane as its new council hub as part of a major scheme to move the council’s offices to a single site.

In return, the district council will pay £600,000 to cover the urgent repairs needed to bring the hall up to scratch for local groups and residents.

But in the latest twist over plans to upgrade the hall, a legal clause states that before the Community Hall lease can be transferred to Wealden District Council, the people of Hailsham have to vote on it and agree by a majority.

At a Hailsham Town Council Meeting on Monday March 14, councillors passed a motion refusing to advance between £50,000 to £60,000 from the Town Council’s reserves to cover repairs at the hall. Town clerk Liz Jones said, “It is a large sum of money to re-roof it and to repair the water damage inside. That is only the tip of the iceberg. The hall is now 28 years old, it needs considerable upgrading and refurbishment. There is no way the Trust could repay the loan.”

Hailsham Town Councillor Geoff Rowe said the public vote would be a chance for people to see for themselves the condition of the hall. “Go and have a look at the hall,” he said. “Especially visit places like the toilets and see what they are like inside. This is a golden opportunity to get it into a worthwhile state. The £60k quoted for the repair work is just a patch job. In a few years it will be back the way it was.”

Anyone over the age of 18 can have their say over the refurbishment plans at a public meeting on Mon April 11 at 7pm at Hailsham Community Hall.