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Death knell sounds for three Brentwood community halls

December 5, 2008 9:16 PM
Keys Hall

Keys Hall: A temporary reprieve but still earmarked for disposal, as well as Old House

Brentwood's Liberal Democrats have voted against the council's Asset Management Plan on principle as it clearly stated the Conservative-run council's intention to dispose of Keys Hall in Warley, Old House in Shenfield Road and Hutton Parish Hall.

Cllr Karen Chilvers said:

"My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I have fought against the disposal of Keys Hall for almost two years now and have watched with sadness as this well-used community facility has fallen into a poor state of repair. I understand that the kitchen is no longer functioning and for some time it has badly needed refurbishment."

FLASHBACK: Lib Dems and Old House users stage demo at Old House, April 2008

FLASHBACK: Lib Dems and Old House users stage demo, April 2008

The Liberal Democrats have also campaigned against the closure of the Old House as this provides a much needed town centre facility. Cllr Chilvers added:

"A number of Old House users, including the very popular "Learning for Pleasure" for group, will find it difficult to fully relocate to Merrymeade House as many of their users rely on public transport to get them to their classes. The extra distance to Merrymeade is prohibitive, unless you have a car.

"There were a number of options for the refurbishment of this building and we suggested renting the upstairs rooms to small businesses and bringing the larger, downstairs meeting room up to a good standard and continue to make it available to community groups. Sadly, to no avail."

However, it seems there may be a temporary reprieve for Keys Hall. Due to the economic downturn, there was very little interest in purchasing the area for re-development and the council has reverted to taking bookings six, rather than three, months in advance. The opportunity to re-develop the area will be given again once the economic situation starts to improve, despite the appeals of the Lib Dems.

Cllr Chilvers asked that, given that the economic situation will not be resolved quickly, that the hall is given a longer reprieve of 2-3 years, but the Conservative administration refused to consider a bookings period longer than six months. However, consideration will be improving the facility in the short term.

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