Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Caroline Ansell invited community leaders up to parliament last week to meet the Levelling Up Minister and discuss how to save Meads Parish Hall using the government’s Community Ownership Fund.
Meads councillor & chair of trustees Robert Smart and trustee of Meads Parish Hall Mitch Peacock met with Jacob Young to talk about the future of the hall.
It is a vital facility for the local community and was used by a wide range of local groups, until its forced closure in December as it was unsafe after years of little maintenance.
The 98-year-old building is now re-open for the time being, but Mitch told the minister, if restoration isn't carried out soon it will have to close permanently. It needs around £500,000 to modernise and refurbish it.
Robert, Mitch and a number of other volunteers have set up a charity in order to save the hall.
They are now looking towards the Community Ownership Fund as the source of much of what they need for the project.
“The meeting gave Robert and Mitch the chance to run through all their questions on the scheme, application process and timelines,” said Caroline.
“The minister in turn set out how saving key community assets was exactly what he hoped for from applicants to the fund and explained just how keen the government are to get these funds out to projects.
“The latest round of the fund has seen some significant changes that will help. Match funding levels have been lowered from 50% to 20% and the funding cap increased from £1 million to £2 million.
“I will do all I can to support the group in its work to find money and apply to the fund. I thank the minister for his time.”
Mitch said: “We have had a very informative day meeting with the minister and were able to learn some very important information that will allow us to take forward our application for the Community Ownership Fund.
“Many thanks to Caroline for organising the meeting.”
Robert added: “We were delighted to hear today that we are now registered with the charity commission, so we are ready to go with our Community Ownership Fund application for which we have high hopes."