Pressure mounts to re-open Belgrave Hall and Gardens

13th February, 2013

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Last night the Belgrave Hall Conservation Area Society held an open meeting as part of its campaign to re-open the Hall and gardens. Cllr Piara Clair Assistant Mayor responsible for the Hall attended to answer questions and explain why he had agreed to the closure.

Cllr Clair tried to spin the line that Belgrave Hall was not closed. Attempts to explain away the many questions and points raised by concerned people, were excruciatingly embarrassing and woefully inadequate. The meeting grew impatient and the chair had to come to the rescue and confirm that the Hall was closed, the doors have been locked and the public shut out. Indeed it says it is closed on the City Council’s website“Belgrave Hall is open for special events only”

It was clear to all that the Hall and Gardens had been closed to turn them into a wedding venue and other income generating uses. The meeting was reminded that in the briefing note about the decision to close the Hall £139,000 is being spent as follows: (quote from the report)

“-Redecoration of ground floor rooms for use as wedding venues, meeting spaces and other income generating uses.

-Installation of new toilet facilities.

-Creation of a new area of the garden and surface for use with a marquee.  Installation of electric points to the area for use with the marquee.

-Walkway from the Hall to the marquee for temporary cover

-Purchase of furniture and fittings”

None of this has anything to do with improving this major historic house as a museum or ensuring it stays open to the public. A draft list of 33 future events was circulated to audible dismay as the audience worked out that only 10 would be free and some would cost £40 and £35 to get into.

Cllr Byrne, (who grew up in Belgrave) and Cllr Thomas had both visited the Hall since they were children and were appalled that it had been closed. Cllr Joshi added his voice against the closure. Cllr Chaplin pointed out that the Assistant Mayor could find £40,000 out of his £12.9million budget to keep the Hall open, in the same way he has found money to support the excellent work on Richard III.

Many present could not understand why the hall had been closed with all of the revived interest in history following the discovery of Richard III and the proposed railway museum in Belgrave.  “Surely this is exactly the time when we should be opening the Hall more often, not closing it?” said one member of the public.

The meeting agreed unanimously that the Hall and Gardens should stay open and that officers and councillors should meet with the Committee of the Conservation Society to find a way to re-open the Hall and Gardens.

Hundreds of people have now signed the petition calling for the Hall to re-opened.
If you want to sign or join the campaign to re-open the Hall e-mail David at bhcas@inbox.com

Sign showing the Hall and Gardens were open for all school holidays. This is the first time in decades that it is now closed and children will be denied the opportunity of experiencing one of “Leicester’s gems” as Cllr John Thomas said who recalled childhood visits to the hall that had inspired is love of history.

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  1. Colin Marriott

    18th February, 2013

    I too was born in Belgrave (Mellor Street) and each Sunday after church I, with my brothers and sisters would visit the museum.
    For me it was to see the house but in particular the coachhouse.
    What has happened to the coaches ?, where have they gone.

    Regards Colin Marriott

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