Twelve Reasons Why The Town Hall Sale Must Be Halted

Posted earlier on the Beeston Updated Facebook Page

.Please share widely.

Today is D-Day folks. The day the Town Hall may be, by consent of elected members of Broxtowe Borough Council, be moved from the public – who built it 82 years ago for us to proudly use in perpertuity, into private hands.

A few things to remember.

1. This was not in any councillor’s manifesto. Not a single one. There are elections in May: if they are confident this is what the people want, let them present the case then and let us decide.

2. The bid process, as has been repeatedly shown, has been flawed the whole way. The bidding system was unequal, opaque (until we leaked it) and bizarre gagging orders were attempted to be imposed on the community bid as a condition of bidding.

3. The church bid was pushed as the best option by an officer who himself was connected to the Evangelical Alliance, the umbrella group of churches that also cover the winning bid.

4. The final oversight of the bid process lies with the the Chief Executive. We have shown her connections to the Evangelical Alliance suggest conflicts of interest. These should have been declared.

5. The Chief Executive’s husband was also shown to be a senior member of a church which was also part of the Evangelical Alliance. Again, this is an undeclared conflict of interest

6. People have claimed that the Evangelical Alliance is somehow a broad church encompassing many different varients of faith. However, the EA threw the Oasis Church group out of its organisation when it showed a more liberal approach to homosexuality. This suggests a rigid system of beliefs that is not compatible with providing truly inclusive community services.

7. The church has stated it would use community usage as a recruitment tool. This again is not compatible with a truly community asset

8. Churches, mosques, temples etc are absolutely fine buying property for their own use on the open market. Their members are free to worship as they choose. That is the beauty of a free, open, secular society. However , this is not the open market, and the decision to give the church the Town Hall can be interpreted as an effective subsidy – our council tax being used to further the church’s aims. The other part of the deal that respects the freedom of religion – that is freedom FROM religion – is not being kept here.

9. As has been detailed by Jim Donaghie, who has vast expertise in the field, as the building houses servers for two Borough councils, secure relocation costs will amount to a huge figure that will leave the money accrued from the sale vastly depleted.

10. There has still been no coherent position on where a new council chamber with public access will be located.

11. There are several legal procedures not fully undertook as part of the process. I am afraid I have been advised to not yet make public what these are, but I have pushed them on to a Beeston councillor.

12. The whole narrative of the town hall has a huge elephant in the room- that is WHY are the council selling a public asset we built for ourselves 82 years ago? The answer is that they have squandered hundreds of thousands of pounds on legal fees and temporary staff to hide a long-standing scandal entirely of their own making. They have not challenged central government on why Broxtowe receives one of the worst local government settlements in England: to make sure they do not rock the boat and potentially jeopardise their career. Their own personal ambitions have supplanted public service

Tonight we can show them that this will not stand. Until every one of the 12 points above are effectively answered, the sale must not proceed. Their is no mandate.

It is important you show the councillors who they actually work for. They are our servants. It is our Town Hall. We are a strong, diverse inclusive community and we can stop this and restore some faith in local democracy.

Town Hall at 6.45 – entry is (for now) free.

We can do this.

TOWN HALL CONFLICT OF INTEREST: AN UPDATE

  • Town Hall set to be sold to Evangelical Church tomorrow

  • Further links between Cheif Executive and Evangelical Alliance

  • Call for public inquiry into Town Hall sale.

Our last post calling into question the impartiality of the bidding process for the Town Hall drew a strong reaction, and with that, some bizarre accusations.

One recurring one, which looks very much like a coordinated attack, claims we are ‘anti-Christian’ and are doing this out of spite towards the church.

This is absolutely untrue. As stated before, a secular, liberal democracy works on the principle of freedom of religion coupled with freedom from religion. That is, as a fan of secularism, a principle we live by and allows us to have friends who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindi and so on. It is the backbone of a diverse and tolerant society. This concerted attempt to create a false narrative that we are all anti–theists, rather than concerned citizens demanding due-dilligence, is pretty nasty

There is also an argument that perhaps the Broxtowe Chief Executive, Ruth Hyde is only a peripheral figure in her involvement with the Evangelical Alliance, and while she may appear in the newsletter we showed last post, the association ends there.

Well, seemingly not.

Here is the website of Sutton Bonington Baptist Church, which is also under the Evangelical Alliance umbrella.

Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 12.35.16

It’s listed on the Evangelical Alliance’s own website as a church under its banner

Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 13.09.14

Who is this chap, mentioned as part of the leadership team?

Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 12.34.59

It seems that not only is the Chief Executive’s husband a member of an evangelical church, but an elder and part of their leadership team.

Now, of course this might be a different Ruth Hyde mentioned.  But if not, this is another link that surely should have been registered as a conflict of interest. Otherwise the decision-making process, where the buck stops with the Chief Executive, could look compromised.

Another slew of social media comments on our last blog made allegations of ‘brown envelopes’, ‘backhanders’ and suchlike in relation to the whole matter. We categorically DO NOT believe that is the case and still hold on to the belief that most people at the council, including councillors of all parties, are decent people with a love for the community. However, we also believe that to maintain trust in politics all perceived conflicts of interest must be declared.

That is the case we are stating. Let’s hope that’s what the one the council responds to tomorrow (Wednesday) night.

BROXTOWE CHIEF EXECUTIVE CONNECTED TO SAME GROUP OF CHURCHES AS TOWN HALL BIDDER CHURCH.

  • CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF BROXTOWE BOROUGH COUNCIL HAS LINKS TO EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE

  • RELIGIOUS GROUP ALSO CONTAINS REDEEMER CHURCH – WHO WILL BE HANDED TOWN HALL ON WEDNESDAY

  • NO RECORD OF CHIEF EXEC DECLARING CONFLICT OF INTEREST

  • SENIOR OFFICER, PART OF BID EVALUATION, PREVIOUSLY SHOWN TO HAVE LINKS TO EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE

  • BROXTOWE MUST HALT PROCESS IMMEDIATELY; CALL FOR INDEPENDENT ENQUIRY

IS WHAT WE DO IMPORTANT TO YOU? DO YOU SUPPORT LOCAL INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM? IF YES, THEN PLEASE CONSIDER MAKING A DONATION TO KEEP THIS SITE RUNNING, EVERY PENNY HELPS US KEEP UP THE WORK : HTTPS://WWW.PAYPAL.ME/BEESTONIA

 

The efforts to flog the town hall have long been mired in controversy. It is an unpopular move to save a failing council at a time when their own financial mismanagement has slowly eaten away at reserves. However, the actual tendering process has raised serious questions about the council’s impartiality.

The Beestonian reported months ago on the close relationship between the Council Officer in charge of the sell-off and one of the bidders. That Council officer provided advice to all three bidders and provided a recommendation to the council despite being a member of a sister church in Nottingham, and having attended the missions of the Evangelical Alliance, a homophobic and misogynistic umbrella group that includes the group bidding on the Town Hall.

Whilst further investigating the Evangelical Alliance following last week’s comments from Jim Donaghie the Beestonian came across further evidence of their connections to the council.

We can exclusively reveal a leaflet from December 2015 released by the Evangelical Alliance featuring our very own Council Chief Executive, Ruth Hyde. Hyde appeared to help them pitch their new service to help you become a trustee of Christian Charities both in the UK and abroad suggesting that whilst a relationship may not persist they certainly felt comfortable prominently featuring Hyde in their magazine:

43950775_614695352260948_3280389746014027776_n

 

Was this link declared? As the buck stops at the council with Ruth, if she has not made her link to the recommended bid from the church, then this does not look good.

It should be made clear at this point that the Beestonian has no issue with Christianity. Our problem originates not with the Evangelical Alliance’s religion but with their approach to the LGBT+ community and women. One of our two major contributors, Tom Roberts, is bisexual and has had unpleasant encounters with the Alliance’s teachings. Ultimately Beeston prides itself on being an open and tolerant space and our civic buildings should not be sold on to a group that judges members based on their sexuality.

A tolerant, secular democracy is defined by a simple attitude to faith: there should be freedom OF religion; there should be freedom FROM religion. As the Town Hall is meant to be used for community usage, and the nature of the sale effectively subsidises the church. That’ll be with YOUR council tax.

This follows hot on the heels of the council dismissing one of its senior officers on charges that appear to relate to preferential deals (watch this space). This was the one successful outcome (out of four!) for the council from its year-long investigation into former council officers  (see Beestonia passim)and suggests that the council takes potential misconduct very very seriously. We are sure they will apply this same scrutiny to those involved in the town hall sell-off.

What Can I Do?

We get this asked frequently: people feel powerless. The next elections are in May, by which time the Town Hall will be lost and Broxtowe if the experts at the LGA are correct, will be bankrupt and consumed by Nottinghamshire County Council, and local democracy further eroded. We can not wait. Here is what you CAN do:

  1. On Wednesday (17th October), at 6.45pm, the full council will meet in the very same Town Hall they are looking to sell. This meeting will see the councillors who represent you vote on whether to hand over the building to the church, rather than the strong, viable and truly inclusive community bid put forward at the same time as the Church bid. We want you there, in the public gallery. It’s free because it’s your democracy. At least for now.
  2. Add your name to this letter being put forward by Beeston resident: simply leave your details in the comments on this article, or email me confidentially and we will pass your details onto Ed: mattgoold23@hotmail.com. You can also, if a member of the Beeston Updated Facebook group, ask to be included: https://www.facebook.com/groups/815338891820008/permalink/2112873665399851/
  3. Write to your councillor. THEY work for YOU. Put forward your concerns politely that the sale is flawed and a public, independent inquiry should be put in place before any sale happens. Who is your councillor? Armed with just your postcode, you can find out here, with contact details.
  4. Write to your MP. Yes, we have had our battles with Anna Soubry in the past, and she has been surprisingly taciturn on this issue, but we believe she would not like to see local democracy damaged and community ignored in the way the council are planning. Politely contact her on anna.soubry.mp@parliament.uk.
  5. Don’t lose hope. We have this one last chance to ensure that the much-loved totem of local democracy stays in public ownership. We can do this.

 

 

 

THE TOWN HALL SELL-OFF SCANDAL: JIM DONAGHIE COMMENTS

Jim Donaghie is a community activist committed to keeping the Town Hall in public hands. After last night’s announcement that the building will be recommended to full council to be sold to a church group with some pretty nasty views, he comments here:

Before I start I must declare my interest at this point, I strongly advocate the retention of the town hall for use within the community.
Many of you will be aware that Broxtowe Borough Council, (BCC), are currently looking at the disposal of Beeston Town Hall. The point which has now been reached is that the council are preferring “community” bids as opposed to developer offers. The process has reached the point where two bidders remain, the Beeston Town hall Community, (BTHC) bid and a bid from The Redeemer Church, a “plant” offshoot of the large Cornerstone church situated on Castle Boulevard in Nottingham.
The BTHC bid centres around leasing the Town Hall from the council and running it as a charity run community hub, offering meeting space for local clubs and organisations with the possibility of expanding into other areas of community benefit.
The Redeemer church bid is purely to turn the Town Hall into one of their churches, where they can hold Sunday services and host other church-related group activities through the week.
In the interests of investigating whether both organisations could benefit from use of the town hall, meetings were held between the two groups. The BTHC group was more than happy to offer the church the use of the town hall on Sundays and rooms through the week for their groups, however the church position was that they wanted sole ownership of the building for their own use and therefore a compromise could not be reached.
It has now been announced today, that the recommendations of the BCC officers to the council, is that the Town hall be sold to the Redeemer church.
Whilst I accept I am biased on the subject and this may be seen as sour grapes I’d like to make a couple of points that may not have been obvious or known.
When the church says theirs is a “community” bid, they mean their own community not the wider community of Beeston. On their own website, they declare that the church is a member of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches and the Evangelical Alliance. Both of these organisations are strictly against homosexuality and single-sex marriage. They are fiercely Christian organisations. It is the position of both organisations that all pastors and elders within their churches are all male, as they say that is what their scriptures teach.
Suddenly their “community” is getting smaller, don’t apply if you are homosexual, don’t apply if you follow any religion other than evangelical Christianity, and don’t apply if you are a woman, if you have any aspirations of leadership.
Can anyone really say this is a “community” bid in the spirit that I’m sure the council meant?

I would ask anyone that wants the town hall to remain the property of the people of Beeston to contact their local councillors, (details on the BCC website), and tell them what you think and do it now. The full council meeting is on the 17th of October and I would also urge anyone with an interest to attend that meeting to show their support for the property of the people of Beeston, to remain our property.