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Rayleigh election results show Mill Hall demolition is a non-starter

Council proposals to demolish Rochford district’s landmark arts and entertainment centre have been left in ruins following the local elections, say campaigners fighting to save the Mill Hall in Rayleigh.

Rochford District Council plans to raze the popular community building and replace it with flats, but the Save Mill Hall Campaign says the results in the District and Town Council elections clearly demonstrate the plans are hugely unpopular with local people and should be scrapped.

‘Our campaign’s engagement with local residents has revealed thousands are horrified by the council’s plan to demolish the Mill Hall and replace it with an insufficient community centre, ‘ said John Payton from the campaign. ‘When residents have been made aware that blocks of flats are to be built a stone’s throw from the historic Rayleigh Windmill, they are appalled. But for a few votes, the current council administration could have lost all the seats up for election in Rayleigh,’ he added. ’The largest party on Rochford District Council lost the majority share of the vote in every ward in Rayleigh and many seats were only split by a handful of votes. It’s clear residents have had enough of the council’s continued attempts to take away community resources and build flats on conservation areas such as the Rayleigh Mill and Civic suite sites’.

During the election campaign the council announced the plans for demolition had been ‘paused’ while its controversial Asset Delivery Programme was reviewed, but the Save Mill Hall Campaign says the election result means the council must re-open the popular hall to the public (once its role as a vaccination centre has ended), protect its future and stop spending council tax payers money on the Programme until the future of the hall is resolved.

Save Mill Hall Campaigner Jill Waight, who was elected as an Independent onto Rayleigh Town Council’s after taking first place in Trinity Ward with 1166 votes - well ahead of the other candidates - said she would now be calling on the council to publicly condemn the plans:

‘I find it extraordinary that while the town’s residents have been working tirelessly to save their Mill Hall and stop flats being built in the conservation area, Rayleigh’s own council has been completely silent. I’ll be pushing for the council to voice their opposition at the earliest opportunity. Rather than demolishing the Mill Hall the election results took a wrecking ball to the votes of those candidates supporting Rochford District Council’s plans to destroy this much loved community asset’ she added.

Campaigners say they now look forward to engaging with councillors and working towards an alternative proposal which retains the much loved hall and protects the conservation area from development.

Following the election result a small number of councillors, campaigners and some of the almost 4,000 local people who have signed a petition to save the Mill Hall, gathered for a socially distanced photograph outside the popular venue.

Town councillors, campaigners and local residents are now calling on Rochford District Council to halt the demolition plans once and for all.

Rayleigh Town Councillors who support the campaign to save the Mill Hall, will now be calling on the Town Council to publicly condemn the demolition plans.

Media contacts:

Paul Dunt, press officer, Save Mill Hall Campaign

(07939) 228052

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