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News and Comment September 2021

Index: 2019202020212022

30 September (Part 1) - Hall Place revamp on track

Councillor Melvin SeymourThe Places Scrutiny Committee spent a few minutes discussing how the recommendations already made for Hall Place were progressing.

Among the ideas to make more money from it was…

• More signs on the A2 and banners in the grounds advertising events visible from the A2.
• Place wedding photos in the Great Hall to attract more wedding business.
• Hold more markets and garden shows selling plants.
• Arrange outdoor cinema and theatre shows.
• Put on jousting displays and art events.
• Provide themed catering events.
• Refresh exhibitions quarterly.
• Improve the Hall reception area and put art on display in the Great Hall.
• Create more events aimed at children.
• Hire out rooms for evening classes etc.
• Install more toilets.
• Use the loft space as offices.
• Introduce car parking charges.

Cabinet Member Craske was the first to speak and said that a lot of income had been lost because of Covid - no wedding bookings in particular. Currently a wedding catch-up situation appears to be responsible for weekday wedding only bookings being made with receptions booked for another day and maybe at a different venue.

Visitor numbers are good; in 2019/20 the number reached 285,000 but in 2020/21 the number went over 300,000. Since April there had been 181,000 visitors.

A new catering contract is progressing well but locating artifacts to put on display is not. Nobody knows what is held or where they might be which introduces insurance problems. Councillor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis (Conservative, Crayford) said she was “fobbed off” when asking Officers questions. “We don’t know what we own” she complained.

Councillor Val Clark (Conservative, Falconwood & Welling) thought the progress report was excellent and it demonstrated how “this Council cannot be accused of not being a bit forward thinking on how to raise money. We have to do things they [residents] are not used to do doing and don’t like doing because we do need to raise money”. She thought a mini-bus picking up people from the station might be a good idea. “It could take people around all of Bexley’s tourist sites on a guided tour. It would be very popular. We have got to raise money.”

The model railway is on course for opening next year. “A massive project.” At its old Falconwood site it can open for only two hours a month and at Hall Place it will be open all day every Saturday and Sunday and attract more visitors to the café etc.

Councillor John Davey (Conservative, West Heath) requested a small bridge across a ditch near the railway that is frequently too muddy. “It wouldn’t cost much.” He recommended that Hall Place published its own accounts to see where it might be losing money.

Councillor June Slaughter (Conservative, Sidcup) was surprised that there was no recommendation to promote Hall Place via Social Media. It was “appalling” that important gifts from the public had been “just put away” and now apparently lost. “We have not been supplied with anything that shows what the Council has and frankly we haven’t got a clue.”


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