Public meet the trustees behind Meads Community Centre in Eastbourne as fundraising begins

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The Trustees behind Meads Community Centre (MECC) in Eastbourne held their first public meeting on Saturday, February 10, on progress to acquire, renovate and run the Parish Hall for the community.

More than 120 people attended a presentation in a recently reopened Meads Parish Hall, to hear about the plans that could be possible for the dilapidated building.

The hard work and extensive investigations carried out by the Meads Community Association (MCA) and volunteers, prior to MECC being formed, was roundly applauded after an address from MCA chairman, Dennis Scard.

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Chairman of MECC, Robert Smart, told the story of why and how the charity was formed, following the announcement in November 2022 from the PCC of St. John's church that they wished to dispose of the hall. He went on to confirm that the charity was now registered with the Charity Commission, and had made an application to the Community Ownership Fund (COF) for funding to assist the huge backlog of repairs and maintenance required. Talks about the future of the hall are still ongoing with the PCC, and Robert was hopeful that an agreement would be reached to secure the future of the hall for community use.

Trustees with local MP Caroline Ansell, and County Councilor for Meads Brett Wright. Picture: Vision for EastbourneTrustees with local MP Caroline Ansell, and County Councilor for Meads Brett Wright. Picture: Vision for Eastbourne
Trustees with local MP Caroline Ansell, and County Councilor for Meads Brett Wright. Picture: Vision for Eastbourne

The challenges of the Hall design and the true extent of dilapidation was laid out, together with proposed repair and renovation work and possibilities for future development, by deputy chair Mitch Peacock.

In questions from the floor, the operational feasibility and that of funding future maintenance were dealt with, before a brief exchange broke out within the audience when the question of whether the church should be funding the remedial work, a theme that continued throughout supportive conversations over light refreshments.

Local Member of Parliament, Caroline Ansell attended to offer support again, after helping Robert and Mitch during their research into COF with officials in Westminster.

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The Eastbourne MP said: “I joined over 100 residents at a public meeting to discuss the future for the almost 100 year old Meads Parish Hall - a cherished community space that is a vital community link for so many.

“Led by Trustees Mitch, Annalisa, Helen and local councillor Robert Smart we delved into the next steps for the plans to save the Hall.

“This followed the meeting I set up in Westminster last month with the Minister for Levelling Up, that allowed Mitch and Robert to talk through the plans and raise any questions they had on the scheme.

“The plans for the hall look hugely exciting and were well received by those who attended, and whilst the Community Ownership Fund will provide the lion's share of the funds needed to restore the hall, 20% will need to be match funded by the community.”

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Meads County Councilor, Brett Wright, another supporter of the venture, was most encouraging about the proposal to include off-road disabled parking, and offered help and advice.

The event also marked the start of fundraising, where the main focus was on pledges towards the match funding required for COF. Gift Aid registration is expected very soon, and will help boost the value of donations, which are also required to fund professional fees ahead of a COF decision.