I AM sorry that in her letter last week Barbara Rogers was unhappy.
She’s done a great job running St Mary-in-the-Castle and we all owe her a real debt.
But I don’t see that the council has done anything that has not been completely upfront and open.
We were really pleased that Barbara agreed to a temporary, rent-free licence to run the building with the council continuing to pick up big costs like insurance, lift maintenance and the upkeep of the external fabric of St Mary’s.
Barbara has kept this important facility going while a longer term solution was found – and that was always the deal.
All political parties on the council supported the MyPlace bid which would have brought substantial monies to St Mary’s for it to become a youth-run cultural centre.
Unfortunately, the Government kept us all waiting much too long for the answer which ended up as a no to that bid.
Barbara then agreed to continue her temporary agreement to look after St Mary’s in the full knowledge that the council would put the long-term running of the building out to public advertisement.
This is what is currently happening.
We have no preconceived views about who might express an interest in taking over and as I have said previously we are looking for tenants who will run the building for arts, education, community or other uses that are appropriate for its heritage status.
Anyone, locally or nationally, is welcome to make contact. If Barbara, or anyone else involved with the building, is interested then that would be great.
Every expression of interest will be looked at in the same light – financial viability and appropriateness for the building.
COUNCILLOR JEREMY BIRCH
Hastings Borough Council