The Chair of Ridgewood Village Hall Committe, Mrs Karen Bedwell addressed the meeting at the beginning.
Mrs Bedwell explained that the summary prepared by Town Council staff clearly outlined the basic principles of the plans for the extension but they wished to clarify some further points. It was advised that the hall was used extensively Monday through to Sunday by all ages and people within the Ridgewood and Uckfield community. No provision had been made for a community facility to accompany the planned 1,000 homes being built at Ridgewood Place. The Chair explained that they were aware that the Town Council was currently focusing its attention on other assets, but strongly believed that due to the population increase planned for Ridgewood, the alterations and improvements to the hall were of paramount importance.
As well as holding community fundraising events, the Ridgewood Village Hall Committee had looked extensively at the current grant funding available, and getting investment for a rebuild/renovation was limited. They were therefore asking for the Town Council as the owner of the building to assist, and to see if they could significantly contribute towards the build, in the form of a public works loan.
Mrs Bedwell noted that she was aware an election was pending, but they had limited timescales in which to apply for grant funding. They also appreciated that Uckfield Town Council was not the Uckfield bank. They highlighted the many advantages to the Town Council in supporting the project, namely the Town Council would be investing in their own building, investing in the local community and contributing to the expanding Ridgewood community. Public loan board finance was small and taxpayers were currently contributing to other public works loans through the town. It would therefore increase the value of the asset and it would leave a legacy for the Ridgewood community for the next 50 years and beyond.
Later in the meeting Councillors discussed Ridgewood Hall:
Members considered a report which outlined the plans of the Ridgewood Village Hall Committee to extend and refurbish Ridgewood Village Hall. The report requested the support of the Town Council in funding their proposals.
One member asked for clarification on the timescales of the S106 agreement and funding anticipated from the Ridgewood development. The Town Clerk advised that she would check with the local planning authority.
Members wished to thank the Ridgewood Village Hall Committee for their hard work and dedication to date, in getting the project onto paper and starting to fundraise. The village hall was a great facility within the Ridgewood community.
It was resolved to request the Town Clerk to explore the options available to the Town Council in terms of whether it would be able to contribute towards the proposed extension and building alterations drawn up by the Ridgewood Village Hall Committee.
(Taken from Town Council Minutes – Full council Monday February 25)