End of the road for plans to bring heritage to the Old Police Station

EDITOR – After six years, five mayors, a revolving cast of town councillors and a raft of broken promises, Rase Heritage Society (RHS) has withdrawn from discussions with Market Rasen Town Council.

Despite the grant application stating “heritage and archive centre for Market Rasen and its hinterland”, there seems no desire on their part to provide this.

In November 2010 a Heritage Advisory Sub-Committee was convened to move the heritage part of the Old Police Station forward.

Two members of Rase Heritage were asked to sit on this committee along with six councillors. Hazel Barnard (chair) and Mal Jones (vice chair) accepted.

Meetings were to be held monthly thereafter. Chair was Lynda Bowen and vice chair John Hadlow, both councillors.

Throughout these meetings, discussions revolved around which parts of the building would be available for this purpose, different suggestions were put forward and discussed and then discarded, the committee worked from old plans originally drawn up by the council in 2006.

Finally, in June, this committee decided that the HASC should ask the full council for funds to have some new plans drawn up to reflect the vision of this committee and to allow change of use, which was still registered as ‘business’ to ‘public amenity’, to allow funding to be sought.

In full council RHS was accused of not supplying a business plan by Coun Hadlow, who had been vice chair of this committee prior to his resignation at the time of the local election and had then been co-opted back onto the council in June.

A vote was then taken and HASC’s request was refused by full council, with many of the new councillors not being made aware of the background to this request.

As confirmed to me in an email from Lynda Bowen, chair of HASC, which I received the next day, “the responsibility for no business plan falls to me, as chair of the committee, not to RHS who are members, not scapegoats for that committee.”

As a member of HASC he would know that a business plan must come from that committee.

This has been the chicken and egg story ever since the council purchased this building, RHS are not the owners of this building, so can only put forward their suggestions and plans; only when a clear decision on how to use the whole building has been made and kept to, can a business plan then be drawn up by officers of the council.

It has always been the dream, in fact the initial reason for our being, we were one of three parties mentioned in the EMDA funding application along with Market Rasen Town Council and Market Rasen Developemnt Trust that secured the funds, to play our part in a heritage facility in the Old Police Station, which would be the town’s own Grade II listed building.

When the generous people of this town donated funds to purchase some of the fantastic Brian Ayre collection, they all hoped (and expected) it to be displayed in ‘their’ building.

We are available to Market Rasen Town Council whenever they feel able to meet their obligation to the town, but in the meantime, we continue to place our collection in public areas around the town.

We currently have displays in the doctors’ surgery, Jossals, Rasen Hub and Methodist Chapel, and have been offered two further sites in town, which will be announced later in the year.

We continue to have our drop-in sessions at the library on the first Tuesday morning of every month and currently display photographs for identification there.

We work with the Rasen Mail on their nostalgia section and our collection continues to grow with local artifacts being donated on a regular basis.

We and the townspeople have the vision, why doesn’t the town Council?

Hazel Barnard

Chair – Rase Heritage Society