A huge turn out tonight, by the public, at the emergency meeting I called for of the Amenities Committee of the Town Council to discuss what will happen with Hanger Farm.
NACRO who run Totton College is at fault.
They invited the Chairman of the Town Council (who isn’t a member of the forum and not bound by confidentiality) to the last Totton College Education forum meeting and disclosed that they had been seeking to offload Hanger Farm.
Not unnaturally, the Chairman and all present were somewhat surprised by this (having always been told that they were committed to the facility).
It was disappointing to learn that they had a “behind closed doors meeting” (are we allowed to call it “secret”?) with one interested party.
Things had then advanced to the level of the College having lodged a letter with the Town Council giving notice of an intention to quit.
It would seem no Councillors were aware of this, no staff at the centre aware and no reference at all to the Hanger Farm Consultative Panel.
I decided that NACRO had breached their own confidentiality, so they could hardly blame me for informing one an all what they were up to.
Pleasingly, now that I have shone the light on the situation and everyone is aware, things are progressing in a proper manner with due process.
NACRO are going to be asked to specify a date for withdrawal with hopefully some flexibility so that the Arts Centre won’t have to close before transferring to new management.
I am also pleased that the Town Council have decided that they will follow a proper tender process, inviting other interested parties to take on the contract with a view to running it in a sustainable way.
I don’t think there is any danger of the facility closing but many people are understandably anxious about the changes ahead.
What I expect to happen is that a new organisation will take over.
Hopefully, it will be one that seeks to run a great and varied programme of events, as now.
An organisation that can balance an Arts & Culture background with good business acumen would be ideal.
As often happens, I have been getting some criticism from various quarters.
I don’t mind.
I just do what I think is the right thing to do.
I cannot do this job any other way.
Also see: www.dharrison.org.uk/hanger-farm-facts
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I am sorry about the length of this post but these essential works are going to cause a lot of disruption and it is a good idea to avoid travelling at these times if you can.