Westminster Column - We Must Save our Town Hall

27th February 2015

I do not usually burden the letters column of the Royal Sutton Observer, but I did write a few weeks ago warning of the danger that our Town Hall faces as a result of the weekly losses it is suffering and likely future capital expenditure. I am extremely concerned about the threat to our Town Hall, which is a jewel in our Royal Town’s crown and a hugely important landmark in Sutton Coldfield. I know there are many in Sutton Coldfield, including all our councillors, who share this deep concern.

Of course we had all hoped that the importance of this building to our Town and community would be recognised by Birmingham City Council, and would be invested in as such. But we must accept that in the difficult economic times, we have to look to a different solution to the Council. A group have now come together, led by Richard Mason, Martyn Parfect, Kevin Bond, David Crump and Barbara Spittle, who have a powerful vision for Sutton Coldfield Town Hall’s future, which deserves every possible support from everyone who cares about our Town Hall. Their public spirited approach and the expertise which they are deploying deserves to be strongly applauded.

Last week I wrote to the Leader of Birmingham City Council, Sir Albert Bore, to ask for more time for this group to investigate fully their proposal to save the Town Hall, and to create a viable business plan for it. This is a local and professional initiative, and I would like it given every opportunity to succeed.

Following strong support from our local councillors, led by Cllr Anne Underwood, I am pleased that the Council have agreed to this proposal in a speedy and supportive way and have given the additional six month period until April next year for the full exploration of these plans to take place.

The consortium hopes to turn Sutton Town Hall into a Local Community Trust. In this capacity the Town Hall would serve not only Sutton Coldfield, but the area around us as well. It would function as a commercial venue, but will also be available for community activities and will provide support for schools and other local groups.

The proposals also include offers of apprenticeships within the Trust, work experience placements for a wide range of careers in the arts, and the creation of a community café.

Inevitably this group is not yet in a position to say for certain whether their idea is viable, but I do feel that this is exactly the kind of approach and proposal that we need if we are going to find a way to save our Town Hall.

I strongly support this approach and will do everything I can to ensure that all viable proposals get a good hearing from Birmingham City Council. There will be others in the local community with good ideas, and possibly expertise that is useful and valuable, and I hope they will not hesitate to get in touch with Richard and Martyn to give their support.

| Letter to Sir Albert Bore, 20th February 2015

| Letter from Sir Albert Bore, 25th February 2015