Keys Hall "being run down for a quick sale"

February 13, 2008 7:14 PM

Brentwood Liberal Democrats have discovered that bookings for Keys Hall, the community facility in Warley earmarked for possible disposal by the Conservative administration running Brentwood Borough Council, are being actively discouraged. Bookings can now only be made three months in advance and there is no longer a working kitchen.

Keys Hall is also considerably more expensive than other halls and, although it is larger in size and capacity, the lack of facilities should, we feel, mean that it is at least comparable with, for instance, The Nightingale Centre.

The Liberal Democrats tabled a motion to reduce the hire fees for the hall to encourage bookings, however, the Conservatives voted against it.

This is an issue that affects all of Brentwood and the Conservatives seem to be purposely running this important facility down to make a quick sale. Only a few months ago, bookings were being taken six months in advance, which makes it virtually impossible to book the hall for a wedding or major event, and now this has been reduced to three. The lack of a kitchen also makes the hall less attractive to potential users. Reducing the fees slightly would have shown commitment to the hall.

Cllr Karen Chilvers, Lib Dem ward member for neighbouring Brentwood West, who led on the petition to Save Keys Hall last year, said:

"What is most galling about this is the fact that a 750+ strong petition was presented in May 2007 and the depth of feeling is not being taken into account. The Conservatives even suggested that this huge petition is now irrelevant. There are still groups, such as Holdens Archers, who will be homeless if Keys Hall is disposed of and it is certainly not irrelevant to them."

The loss of Shenfield Sports Centre as a publicly available hall at the same time means that a review of the availability of large halls is needed. Keys Hall is the only hall of this size currently available.