The facts about Clair Hall

  1. Clair Hall was built with the 6d subscriptions paid and collected from local people over a number of years. The site was specifically selected for its excellent location, near to transport links and readily accessible to everyone.[1]
  2. It provides facilities for all age groups from youngsters to Age UK with full disabled access.
  3. It is the only hall in the area with a seating capacity of 360 suitable for performances and larger events.
  4. It is a Theatre protected by the Theatre Trust.
  5. The Theatre Trust is a statutory consultee but their representations against the closure of Clair Hall have never been made public.[2]
  6. S106 payments amounting to some £187k specifically available for the maintenance of Clair Hall has never been spent and remains held by MSDC.[3]
  7. While claiming poor state of repair as grounds for closing Clair Hall, MSDC have only spent £100k on repairs since 2013, £48K of which for the car park. This is approximately £6.5K pa on the building itself – hardly a drain on the public purse.
  8. Claims that £1m repairs are required to CH are not supported by a professional report survey or proper cost estimate.[4]
  9. Claims that the 20 other suitable venues to replace Clair Hall within 1 mile identified by MSDC have, on examination, proved to be incorrect.[5]
  10. MSDC failed in their statutory duty to carry out full public consultation before a rushed decision to “permanently” close Clair Hall.
  11. Officers accepted that Council procedure had not been followed.[6]
  12. Faced with High Court litigation challenging the decision for breach of statutory duty and Irrationality[7], MSDC gave a legally binding Undertaking contained in a High Court Order not to rely on the decision and to carry out full consultation, and paid the applicant’s costs.
  13. Under the Court Order MSDC is not permitted to proceed on the basis Clair Hall is closed.
  14. A copy of the High Court Order does not appear anywhere in Council meeting records.
  15. Following statements issued by MSDC following the Undertaking suggesting MSDC were ignoring these obligations and faced with a referral back to the High Court, MSDC conceded they would carry out a review.
  16. To date some 42K local residents have passed through its doors for their covid vaccination and seen for themselves the building is perfectly sound, suitable for many years use.
  17. MSDC recently issued a statement stating they intend to
    1. Appoint a consultant
    2. Carry out “engagement” with as yet unnamed parties
    3. Discuss the result of the “engagement” in a public consultation.
  18. References continue to be made about “fresh modern hub”, which presupposes Clair Hall will be demolished.[8]
  19. Questions which might be asked:
    1. Terms of reference of consultant?
    2. Why is full public consultation not taking place FIRST ?
    3. With whom is “engagement” to take place before report prepared limiting review by public ?
    4. If there is to be a new building – where, when and how will this be provided and paid for.
    5. If there is to be a new building – why close the old one until the new one is available. (Shades of the Martlets, Burgess Hill )

No one is suggesting that the Council maintain an old out of date, under used building which no longer meets the needs of the community, but the facts to date do not bear out this assertion.