Thursday, 27 November 2014

Nick Clegg: What about Stretford public hall?

What about Stretford Public Hall, Mr Clegg?
Nick Clegg said today on LBC Radio that the government would be fine with public sector charities, groups, and conglomerates taking control of abandoned buildings, and bringing them back to life, when local authorities have decided to close them or sell them.

If this is the case, then, surely, the same should apply for Stretford public hall, which is my local town hall? The hall was built in 1878, and since then it has always remained in the hands of the community, who have always been able to use it. The public hall is not being used, and a local campaign group, the Friends of Stretford Public Hall, are campaigning to keep the hall in the hands of the community. The group has an admirable and formidable vision for the future of the hall, which includes proposing to convert the hall into a unique events venue for weddings, conferences, parties, a small theatre, community events, a music venue, markets and more. They have also proposed to include a good family-friendly restaurant, cafe and evening bar. In the basement they envisage a small underground club housing youth activity, rehearsal space and jazz/comedy cafe. Given the fact that Trafford Council are now looking to close youth centres across the borough due to planned budget cuts from the central government, the use of this facility by vulnerable groups could be vital in helping young people and giving them something to do. The group have launched a bid which is being considered by Trafford Council, as have many private companies who do not want the hall to remain in the hands of the community.

It is time that the coalition government kept its promise, and allowed places like Stretford Public Hall to go to local community groups, and not to private corporations or big business backers. Trafford Council should follow what is supposedly now government policy, and should make sure that places like the Town Hall are given to community groups. Stretford Town Hall has always been an integral part of the local community, and it should always stay that way. If Mr Clegg decides to break his promise, it definitely would not be the first time.

A petition to keep the public hall in public hands, as well as the vision that FOSH have for the future of the town hall, can be found on this link.

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