Members of the Town Council attended Bruton Robins’ first netball match on the new Multi-use Games Area this morning. Later on Bruton United FC’s first senior team joined councillors to mark the opening.
The MUGA is the first part of the Town Council’s proposals to improve the facilities at Jubilee Park. The MUGA is a free all-weather pitch for netball, basketball and five-a-side football, and can be floodlit. It was paid for from a mix of sources including money set aside by housing developers, South Somerset District Council, the Town Council and a Bruton Community Partnership fundraising event.
Other proposals, which are part of Bruton’s new Town Plan 2017, include a new skate park (the “Bru Bowl”), upgrades to the lower pitch and the play area, and rebuilding of the pavilion. Plans for these further developments are at an outline stage, and will go ahead once funding has been secured.
Pictures taken by William Bonner
Some months ago, Bruton Unionist Club started informal discussions with the Town Council about the Club’s future. Although nothing has yet been decided or agreed, the Council has now put forward proposals to the Club’s membership which can be made public. The Council and the Club’s committee believe that these proposals offer the best chance of ensuring that Bruton’s largest public hall remains an asset for the whole town, and that grants can be attracted for its much-needed development and improvement.
The Council is proposing that the Club transfers the freehold of the entire site (including the hall) to the Council. The Council will lease the hall back to the Club for six to twelve months, so that it can continue to run much as it does. Meanwhile a charity will be set up, which will eventually take over the lease and the running of the hall from the Club. At the same time, the Council will work with Club members and other local residents to develop plans for the hall’s future. These may well include substantial improvements to the building, and will definitely include plans for how it is to be used.
It has become very common for Councils to hold the freehold of community halls, and a separate charity to run them. (This is, for example, what happens at the Cheese and Grain in Frome). Because the Council has the freehold, the asset remains in the public ownership of the town. An independent charity has great flexibility in applying for grants, and can concentrate all its energies on making the hall a success.
Bruton’s previous town plans and its 2017 Town Plan all recognise the need for a modern multi-purpose community hall. The Unionist Hall is on a large site with ample parking. It is within easy walking distance for many residents. The view of the Council is that these proposals are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop the community facilities that Bruton lacks.
If it goes ahead this will be a very large project, and so we are approaching it with an appropriate degree of caution. A solicitor has been appointed to ensure that the Council’s and residents’ interests are safeguarded in further negotiations, and a detailed survey of the hall is being commissioned. There will be a further update for the town following these enquiries.
Bruton Town Councillor Mike Brownlow has been awarded the prestigious Councillor of the Year trophy by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC).
Cllr Brownlow chairs the town’s Transport Committee, which has led a number of major recent initiatives including the 20mph zone and traffic calming on Cole Road.
The awarding committee said of his work: “We were very impressed with Cllr Brownlow taking what was obviously a new committee and really running with it in both addressing some of the long-standing issues that had obviously been present in the community and then also looking forward with his 20-year wish for the community.”
Cllr Brownlow commented: “It was a genuine surprise when I was told I’d been nominated for Councillor of the Year, and even more of a surprise when I learnt I’d won! I was extremely honoured to accept this award on Monday on behalf of everyone on Bruton Town Council. There’s a lot going on in Bruton these days, and anything we achieve is the result of much collaborative effort. So I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to the clerk and my fellow councillors, who all contribute so energetically on behalf of our wonderful town. I’m really proud to be a part of such an imaginative and hard-working organisation.”