At a Kingston Council meeting on Tuesday night, Kingston’s ruling LibDem councillors refused to back a Conservative motion to prevent the closure and sell-off of more community halls.
The motion, which was also backed by the Independent councillors, aimed to prevent Kingston Council selling off more council owned halls, and also to support local groups in maintaining halls for the benefit of the local community.
The motion, proposed by Conservative councillor Ian George stated: ‘The residents of Kingston have lost, and are continuing to lose, the use of local community halls in the borough. Kingston Council should proactively help support local communities by keeping them open, rather than letting them fall into disrepair and flogging them off to developers, as has been the case recently.’.
Cllr George said: “These halls are vital for local community groups, classes and events that make a positive impact to local communities, bringing people together for educational, health and wellbeing purposes.
“Rather than accept the loss of local halls, and flogging off the sites for yet more flats, Kingston Council should proactively help local residents organise, start groups and maintain the buildings so that they thrive and remain sustainable.
“As well as administrative support from the Council, funds could be made available from the payments received from local developers. Too often the income resulting from development is not spent wisely on providing benefits for the local community. Supporting local community halls and hubs would directly help the local communities that are impacted by the ever increasing density of new housing developments in the borough.”
Despite hearing details of three recent closures (the hall at Norbiton Station, Barnfield Youth Club in Parkfields Road and Chessington British Legion hall), several LibDem councillors said they didn’t accept that community halls were under threat.
On reflecting at the lack of support for the motion from the LibDem councillors, Cllr Ian George said: “It is a shame that the LibDems did not support saving local community halls. I can only presume that the flogging off of our halls will continue. Rather than making political points, and being negative, something very positive could have come from supporting the motion. It seems that Kingston’s LibDems just can’t be bothered.”