Saturday, 25 March 2017

"National support for the Drill Hall"

The Rescue Sidmouth Drill Hall website was founded late last year to do exactly that:

And, whatever your own opinions on the merits or otherwise of the campaign, the website is pretty well informed - and is in fact the sister of a website devoted to researching the history of the building: 
Sidmouth Drill Hall Research Site - Sidmouth Drill Hall Research Site

Meanwhile, here is the latest newsletter from the Rescue website:

Get involved in saving Sidmouth Drill Hall ..... this is a relaunch!
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Port Royal, and national support for saving the Drill Hall
March 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends,
Here is the most recent news.

Port Royal Scoping Exercise
The Reference Group, made up of councillors and representatives of local organisations, has had its second meeting. The notes are available either on the Sidmouth Town Council website or at http://drillhall.rescue.historic-sidmouth.uk/useful-documents under the Local Government Documents section. I have added jump links (anchor links) to this page now to aid navigation as it is getting quite long.

There isn’t much more news from the Scoping Exercise. There will be public consultation at some stage but no-one yet seems to know when. Please start roughing out your thoughts in advance as there may not be a very long consultation period and it might fall at a time which is busy for you. The Rescue site is intended to provide background information to help you. It includes a glossary page to explain what various terms mean to the Government and to Historic England ….. they are not always self evident!

If you are local then don’t miss the opportunity to comment on the next stage of the Neighbourhood Plan either. The next and final questionnaire will be coming soon.
It is worth reading the report on the last questionnaire which has been evaluated, the Business and Special Interest Groups. It is mentioned that although people consider there is enough opportunity for ‘start-up’ businesses and groups there is ‘an apparent lack of larger premises in which to expand’. This indicates that there are many community groups who would welcome the chance to use the Drill Hall space if it became available: even if it was judged unsuitable for a business.

At a national level I am receiving more messages of support for preserving the Hall. As organisations contact me I am adding them to a new page on the Rescue website http://drillhall.rescue.historic-sidmouth.uk/who-supports-the-campaign

The Home Front Legacy organisation have not yet given me permission to add them to the page as specific supporters but Chris Kolonko, Home Front Legacy Officer, told me ‘I will contact my colleagues for advice to see how we can support your cause.’

Gwyneth Roberts of The Drill Hall Project has sent me a document for inclusion on the site. You can find it on this page http://drillhall.rescue.historic-sidmouth.uk/what-were-drill-halls. It can be downloaded but is also supposed to show up embedded in the page, as are documents on other pages. Unfortunately the technology seems to be erratic, so if you see a white space rather than the expected document please refresh your page: or alternately download it from the download link which always shows. I am grateful for permission to share this with you.

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings sent me lots of useful links for which I am also very grateful, I am working through them as time permits. The Twentieth Century Society does cover Drill Halls but only from 1914 onwards so our Hall is outside their remit.

I have mentioned before the music which Consuelo created. This is now on her website and the link is here. http://drillhall.rescue.historic-sidmouth.uk/music-drill-hall. The presentation to go with it will be created when I have time, and will appear on its own page under the same ‘How will this work?’ section.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has been giving money to coastal towns but unfortunately applications had to be in by last year; if more funds will be made available as time goes on I will look into putting in an application. There seems to have been several opportunities for coastal grants in the past. However, their normal grants could still be an opportunity for the Drill Hall, or indeed Port Royal regeneration as a whole. You can read about what they do here. https://www.hlf.org.uk/looking-funding/what-we-fund  I found this article of particular interest.

Councillor Diviani said at the February Council meeting that he and the Council  were committed to "Making sure our assets work to best effect for East Devon tax payers’ Of course this statement is open to a whole range of interpretations, one of which could be that EDDC is committed to selling off assets for short term gain. On the other hand it could be seen as an intention to put the assets to work by making sure that the full potential of assets is used for the benefit of communities. It is our job to make our voices heard, to tell our elected representatives that we don’t want our town to lose its character through loss of its history but that we want to protect our heritage for future generations to enjoy and learn from.

EDDC Council minutes are available in both written and audio format, so you could chose to listen to them whilst driving to work ( unless it would make your driving unsafe!).

All Drill Hall Rescue newsletters are now archived on the Rescue website. Please continue to share knowledge with your friends, neighbours, relatives and work colleagues. I have done so with Councillor Pepper who is the EDDC Heritage Champion and with the Councillors who are on the Reference Group or otherwise have a responsibility for parts of Sidmouth’s Eastern Town.

I have expressed my willingness to include them on this newsletter list if they wish but have not heard from any of them so far. In a couple of cases this will be because they are already on the list!

Please keep checking the two websites for updates as not everything will be mentioned in the newsletters.
www.drillhall.historic-sidmouth.uk  is the Research site.
www.drillhall.rescue.historic-sidmouth.uk is the Rescue site.

Wishing you all the best until next time, Mary.

National support for the Drill Hall

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