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Millennium Centre

Liphook Parish Council has set out its vision for the Liphook Millennium Hall to become a "building for the whole community", but criticism of the long-running saga has continued.

The latest instalment came at the monthly parish council meeting, when recommendations were finally made for the endlessly controversial building's future.

A dozen residents, including trustees and former parish councillors, turned out to hear the report from the LMH working party.

The name of the building will be changed to the Liphook Millennium Centre, and a charity of the same name will be setup.

A management committee will be established, with six parish councillors and six representatives of other organisations. It has not yet been decided whether the six non councillors will have voting rights.

Last month, the council carried out a public consultation asking what should happen to the hall next, and Michael Croucher read out the results.

Some 43 letters were received, five of which had two signatures and one of which had 36.

"The majority were either from the trustees, volunteers at the hall or trustees' friends, and the working reflects that," he said.

In reading out a report from the LMH working party, Mr Croucher said that to be in the best interest of the parishioners, the centre must cater for all parts of the community and maximise use of the facilities.

It should also be managed efficiently and be largely self-supporting, not a financial burden on the precept.

Mr Croucher said that not all these aims had been met so far. He claimed restrictions had been imposed on the type of entertainment offered, the catering options and letting of some areas of the centre.

Questions from the public included why much of the discussion on the future of the hall had been in exempt session?

Financial irregularities in the trustees' accounts and a grant for computer facilities by Voluntary Action East Hampshire were also raised.

Chairman Alan Jordan read a prepared statement explaining why the parish decided in April to take control of the building.

"The LMH trustees had continually rejected the offer of a lease for financial reasons as they said they could not afford to make payment of 96 a week to occupy the building, and that such payments could make them bankrupt," he said.

"The parish council also has concerns over the management, finance and administration of the building and this questioned the way the building should be managed in the future.

Another former parish councillor, Isobel Atkinson, said she found the whole situation "farcical".

Article posted on: 13 December 2002

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