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HCC Implacable

I am very sorry to say we bring you bad news from the two HCC meetings on Monday - the Universal Services Select Committee and the Executive Member's Decision Day. In simple terms, the officers' recommendations to reject both THCH's bid for Haven House and HIWWT's bid for the nature reserve were accepted. We are very grateful to those of you who attended in person this morning and there were doubtless more who listened to this afternon's video meeting. Many thanks to those who made deputations.

Looking for any positives:

  • Virtually all councillors spoke warmly about our bid, although the final vote was 11 - 5.

  • We have been told that we will be offered a feedback meeting shortly (Russell Oppenheimer having rejected our assertions that there had been no dialogue!)

  • We were encouraged to put forward any 'variation' on our bid if we could come up with any proposals which could go further to meet HCC's need to achieve investment in the nature reserve. We will bend our minds to this in the coming days, though at present it is difficult to know what would prove sufficiently attractive to HCC.

But meanwhile HCC will be preparing the information pack to put Haven House on the market, with a target of mid September.

A number of people have already asked 'Is there any way we can appeal?' The honest answer is 'No'. The only way in which we could challenge it is via judical review and that is a costly process and there would need to be worse procedural failures by HCC than we would be able to show.

Needless to say, we told HCC at the meetings today just how much support had been demonstrated by local people in pledges totalling over £222,000 in the last week. But it seems they are simply looking for capital to help with the much needed repairs on the reserve. We sought to emphasise that, with Haven House being run as a community hub, they would not have to spend the £610,000 shown in their plan for a new visitor centre and staff hut as the current arrangements could be maintained, and we would be able to make contributions, not just for the short period the capital receipt lasted, but on an ongoing basis. They would also draw in new visitors from the community hub and be far more attractive to visitors to the reserve who would appreciate the option of the cafe as part of their visit.

Many of you will have seen the coverage on BBC South Today and we are very grateful to Tracey Viney for speaking so clearly - and to the excellent crowd who mustered!

We shall keep in touch as we bend our minds to any further possibilities. Thank you again for all your support.

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