“More Exciting Than Christmas”
The headline may not match the reality but I suggested it to the one journalist who attended the extraordinary meeting of the Town Council tonight that confirmed a decision on the way forward with the Hanger Farm facility.
Many of you will know that Totton College has decided to withdraw from running the facility.
This left the Council with the job of deciding whether to run the facility directly or to seek a partner to manage the day to day operations.
The Council wisely decided to put the opportunity out to tender and has now decided to accept the one submitted from the Minstead Trust, a local charity, based in the New Forest.
I raised a few issues with regard to checking legal matters, a break clause and continued monitoring via a Liaison Committee.
I also suggested that we strongly encourage the Trust to engage with and perhaps, partner up with other organisations, such as Forest Forge who had expressed an interest but failed to submit a valid tender application.
I think this is a good result.
It secures the facility and the jobs.
It means there will be a smooth transition, keeping a full programme of existing booked events and adding new ones.
Hopefully, things like the Totton Drama festival can continue on similar terms.
I think there is the prospect of better daytime utilisation of the building and a great prospect of adults with learning difficulties volunteering and working there.
Financially, it looks as though there will be some benefit to Council coffers, although I am sure the main motivation for all Council members is to see Hanger Farm continue to be a premier Arts facility, accessible to all.
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I do get a lot of complaints about noise nuisance from lorry traffic, especially in areas where residents are living close by to sites such as Marchwood Industrial Estate and Eling Wharf.