Alarmed by Rushcliffe Councils stated intention to ‘consult and evaluate’ options for Lutterell Hall, users of the space met today to show their concern to Rushcliffe MP Ken Clarke.
Members of the St Giles Playgroup, the West Bridgford Liberty Singers and representatives of the Liberal Democrat party all participated in a protest including a specially written song, pleading for Rushcliffe to ‘Show a little respect for the community’.
A spokesperson said:
‘The Council, which last year managed its finances so effectively it was able to put £240k more than planned into its reserves – and had £9m available for capital projects, has noticed that Lutterell Hall needs £300k spending on it to bring it up to scratch. It has given notice that it plans to explore opportunities to link sale of the Lutterell Hall plot with the sale of the neighbouring police station plot.
Local resident and member of West Bridgford Liberty Singers, Lisa Fitzgerald commented “While it is big enough for wedding receptions and dinners, it isn’t really smart enough. Lack of investment in the last 10 years has seen this beautiful building’s condition deteriorate and lack of advertising to highlight its availability means bookings have fallen off a little.
“The Council don’t promote it, or make best use of it and are using the need for investment as an excuse to piggy back on the sale of the old Police Station next door. It’s like they were waiting for the sale of the next door plot to add value to the Lutterell Hall site. All very cynical.”
Another choir member, Jackie Shears, who penned the protest words sung to the tune of Erasure’s ‘A Little Respect’ said:
“You can count on the fingers of one leg the number of community spaces in the centre of West Bridgford capable of holding 150+ people. The playgroup has used this large, safe, indoor place for generations of children to grow, play and develop for the last 50 years.
“There are no other places available on a Monday evening big enough to take the West Bridgford Liberty Singers Community Choir which numbers more than 150 on its books. That’s a lot of fed up middle aged women who will be at a loose end if they close the hall…that public health risk alone should stop the council in its tracks….!”
All the choir members are keen to point out the mental health benefits of singing, and of being part of a strong sense of community.
Choir Director Kari Olsen-Porthouse said “It is a busy old world we live in – having space to meet and sing is a particularly mindful and calming experience. A sense of belonging and being part of a community is equally important for good mental health.
“The Council should be promoting this and investing in Lutterell Hall as a place where not just the choir but other community groups can meet, with space, a kitchen for refreshments and walking distance from most parts of West Bridgford.
“Its proximity to the Registry Office would make it a beautiful reception venue but not in its current slightly shabby state. It would be nice to see the Council consultation conclude that they will invest in the community instead of selling off its assets to allow more apartment blocks to be built”.
“While the choir sang their hearts on, unfortunately Ken Clarke didn’t reward them with any applause. In fact, Constituency staff were seen closing the blinds. Hopefully Rushcliffe Council will be less blinkered in their consideration of the options for the future of Lutterell Hall.”
Mr. Clarke was presented with a 3,500-name petition and asked to intervene with the Borough Council to prevent the closure and sale of the only publicly-owned community hall in West Bridgford. Campaigners emphasised that the needs of local people should be more important than profit and that the Council didn’t even need the money.
Shoppers and passers-by voiced their support for the campaign and the Liberty Singers provided musical accompaniment.
Cheryl Pidgeon (Rushcliffe Labour PPC) said:
“I’m proud to be here today with members of the community fighting to save Lutterell Hall, which is a vital hub for local people. It’s time this Tory-led Borough Council put community needs above profit.
“We are here today to ask Ken Clarke MP to use his influence to get Rushcliffe Council to back down and keep this asset for everyone.”
Members of the St Giles Playgroup, the West Bridgford Liberty Singers and representatives from Labour and the Liberal Democrats all participated.