Findings of Clair Hall public consultation set to be published

An independent report into the first Clair Hall public consultation is due to be published this week.
Clair Hall in Haywards HeathClair Hall in Haywards Heath
Clair Hall in Haywards Heath

The consultation, which closed on September 22, was launched by Mid Sussex District Council to get people’s views on the future use of the Haywards Heath site or whether the hall could stay open.

Leader Jonathan Ash-Edwards said: “I would like to thank local residents and community groups for taking part in the first phase of the consultation.

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“The independent consultants will be holding feedback sessions shortly and will report their findings in due course.

“The NHS use of Clair Hall is due to continue until at least the end of February 2022 and I would like to reassure the community that decisions on the next steps for the Clair Hall site will be made in good time before that.”

In September 2020, the council decided to close the hall, despite concerns about the decision-making process and lack of public consultation.

Campaigners issued proceedings in the High Court for a judicial review to overturn the decision on the grounds the council had acted unlawfully by failing to consult, failing to comply with procedures set in its constitution and that its decision was irrational.

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The council agreed to reconsider its decision  – and has until January 13 2022 to do so.

The issue was due to be debated at a meeting of the full council but a motion tabled by Richard Bates (Lib Dem, Haywards Heath – Ashenground) was withdrawn on the day.  

The motion – which was submitted five days before the consultation ended – suggested the council prepare a report on the work needed to bring the hall back into use, providing the same range of services as before.

Mr Bates said the consultation meetings had shown that people wanted the hall to stay open.

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He told the meeting he would give the council ‘the benefit of the doubt’ and wait to debate the issue once the independent report had been prepared.

In a statement released after the meeting, Jim Knight (Con, Haywards Heath – Lucastes) said he thought the motion would ‘prejudge and undermine the public consultation’.

He added: “The public are entitled to expect that the consultation findings are considered before further decisions are made and that is what Conservative councillors will ensure.”

Once the report is received, a summary of all contributions collected will be published, as well as emerging options for the future of the site.

These will then be put out to a second public consultation.