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Council red-faced over Hadleigh community hall plans
A plan for voluntary groups to make good use of a community hall has been with town hall lawyers for months without the knowledge of councillors.
Members of Castle Point Council’s scrutiny committee were left red-faced when they heard for the first time that dozens of community groups had expressed an interest in using and looking after the hall in Rectory Road, Hadleigh .
Bill Sharp, Conservative councillor for the St James ward, said it was “farcical” and apologised for the situation.
Hayley Meagher, chairman of the Essex Training Corps, was at the meeting. She said the group was willing to manage the hall and open it to lots of community groups which had shown an interest.
She told the committee: “It’s really frustrating, because we submitted a 62-page plan to the council last May and it’s just been holed up in the legal department.
“We would like to manage the hall and open up this facility for the children in the area. A facility like this is much-needed.
“Children and teenagers will be able to do music and other groups, from gardening to mums-and-toddler groups and amateur dramatics, have all said they want to be involved in the project.”
She added: “Our proposals have been with the council legal department for months and we have just heard nothing. We want things to move a bit faster because we are desperate for a facility.”
Mr Sharp said the whole process of putting together a plan for the hall had been too slow.
Calls were also made for a temporary toilet facility to be opened at the hall because the recreation grounds are used by lots of football and sports teams.
Simon Hart, Conservative councillor for Victoria, said it was a “human right” for a toilet to be provided at the hall.
Hadleigh Hall was managed until last year by Sovereign Leisure and handed back to the council in a dilapidated state.
Mr Sharp added the council should have recovered costs because the hall was unusable after the lease was up.
The next meeting of the committee will be on October 9.
A spokesperson for Castle Point Council said: “Castle Point Council received an unsolicited expression interest in May 2011 comprising of a 19 page document. Since that time council officers have been in discussion with the party concerned and allowed access to the building on at least two occasion to assist in the development of the organisation’s proposals .
“Castle Point Council is not yet in a position to formally consider expressions of interest as no formal decision had been taken as to the future of this facility. The council’s places and community policy and scrutiny committee is in the early stages of examining the options.
“The council has now received eight expressions of interest. These will receive full consideration by councillors in due course.’
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