YOUR LETTERS: Council needs to work with the community

Chain Bridge Forge, Spalding.
Chain Bridge Forge, Spalding.
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We at Chain Bridge Forge understand the potential for saving money by moving the Registry Office to Ayscoughfee (South Holland District Council’s £2.7m plan – Spalding Guardian, January 19).

However people queuing to register a death at the same time as an excited family are starting a tour of the museum I can see may cause problems. But I guess it will mean the museum will be open all week again.

I hope the second screen at South Holland Centre is what the community wants and not what South Holland District Council wants to provide. Is it a solution to yesterday’s problem?

The accommodation at the council offices is poor and would need a considerable amount of money to make it appropriate. Wouldn’t it be better to move the council to a smaller building with better parking. Maybe compulsory purchase one of the abandoned sites around Spalding for the purpose? Change Priory Road into housing?

My belief is the council should be facilitating the community to deliver projects it needs and wants. To achieve this the council must start asking and involving the community and act accordingly. The council seems to get it wrong so often, e.g. Red Lion, bandstand at Ayscoughfee and I am sure many more.

Chain Bridge Forge is a small independent museum and since its inception it has been in a battle of wills with the council to deliver it. The council needs to start building partnerships and working with its community to the benefit of all and not imposing its will.

From a personal point of view, as a director of Chain Bridge Forge, we struggle to keep the museum open and each request for money to the council has been rebuffed in the last 12 months.

The Forge has a proud record of offering free entry and giving over a 1,000 children an experience of Blacksmithing. Some 100,000 visited the website www.southhollandlife.com and social media in the last year. We have taken our portable forge to events, given talks to people with dementia and our innovation centre excites young people.

All delivered at no cost to the community. Our running costs per year are about £6,000.

The council contributes £390,000 to Ayscoughfee and £50,000 to Halley Stewart Playing Field. (Source www.sholland.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=5932&p=0 page 81)

Why does the council support the football team at Halley Stewart to the tune of £50,000?

Heritage Lottery and S106 money has meant the Forge have been able to develop and prosper in the last five years.

The Forge have gone to the council for a small amount of help in the last 12 months:

1 – To reduce the commercial pressure and ease cash flow.

2 – To update our website which many people have enjoyed across South Holland and which has brought about a renaissance in our heritage.

3 – To upgrade our innovation facilities which inspire our young people.

This totalled approximately £10,000 but this was rejected and not even any S106 money could be spared. The directors have put their own hands in their pockets when money is needed and they work long hours for no personal gain.

If we can’t build these partnerships I think the lack of support really puts in question what we do at the Forge and with the potential of having to start paying business rates in the coming year we could face closure.