Money saved towards resurfacing Ridgewood Village Hall car park has been reallocated by Uckfield Town Council towards refurbishing and extending the hall.
This means the village hall management committee will be able to put the £49,000 towards the estimated £300,000 to £350,000 cost of the work.
The hall committee itself has raised about £10,800 through summer and Christmas fairs, firework nights, Easter egg hunts, bingo, live band nights, quiz nights and entertainment.
In a report to a full meeting of the town council last week clerk Holly Goring said it was believed the hall committee had secured in the region of £50,000 towards the project.
She looked at other options for securing funding for the hall, which is owned by the council, and said the project would align with the criteria of the National Lottery Community Fund.
A meeting had been held with a representative of the National Lottery and it was recommended that if they were to consider part, or full funding, of the build (in the region of £200,000), they would be keen to see that funding was secured to carry out the internal works of the project.
The hall committee would also need to make a compelling case in terms of the impact of the rebuild/extension and how it meets local need and specific groups and communities.
Mrs Goring said: “Looking at the options available to the Ridgewood Village Hall Committee, and, following the town clerk’s consideration of the town council’s position, the only way in which the town council could currently assist, would be to reallocate/retitle the earmarked reserves set aside for the Ridgewood Village Hall Car Park to a more wider brief of Ridgewood Village Hall improvements.”
Councillors approved the reallocation with the proviso that the resurfacing of the car park would be included in the overall scheme.
Cllr Chris Macve, Trust Independent, representing Uckfield East Ward, said it made sense for work on the car park to follow completion of the project, because of the damage contractors vehicles would do to a new surface beforehand, and therefore he supported the reallocation.
He was concerned though, about the amount of money to be spent on extension and refurbishment and queried whether a complete rebuild might be better.
Cllr Helen Firth, Conservative, New Town, objected to reallocation of the money. She said it had taken a long time to raise money for the car park and it didn’t just come from people in Ridgewood.
She said: “We need to look at all the buildings in our town, not just Ridgewood. I don’t agree we should transfer the money. It was raised for the car park and that is what it should be spent on.”
Cllr Angie Smith, Labour and Co-operative, North, said that if the village hall committee didn’t have a decent pot of money available it might miss out on match funding and she supported reallocation of the money.
She added that she also took on board Cllr Macve’s comments that it may well be worth investigating a new build of the hall as well as a rebuild.
Assistant town clerk Christine Wheatley said the town council should have sight of the specification for the car park. What they didn’t want was a cheap job done that, within a couple of years time, would need doing again and it would be the council’s responsibility to carry out the repairs.”
• Newly co-opted town councillor Karen Bedwell, who is chair of Ridgewood Village Hall Committee, left the meeting, as did Cllr Jez Beesley, Trust Independent, Ridgewood, who also has an interest in the project, until a decision was reached by other members.
• More details about the village hall committee’s plans can be found in this previous Uckfield News story: Ridgewood Village Hall seeks council money for extension.