The Trustees behind Meads (Eastbourne) Community Centre (MECC) held their first public meeting on Saturday, on progress to acquire, renovate and run the Parish Hall for the community. With less than five days notice, more than 120 people attended a presentation in a recently reopened Meads Parish Hall, to hear about the exciting plans that could be possible for the dilapidated building.

The hard work and extensive investigations carried out by the Meads Community Association (MCA) and volunteers, prior to MECC being formed, was roundly applauded after an address from MCA chairman, Dennis Scard.

Chairman of MECC, Robert Smart, told the story of why and how the charity was formed, following the announcement in November 2022 from the PCC of St. John’s church that they wished to dispose of the hall. He went on to confirm that the charity was now registered with the Charity Commission, and had made an application to the Community Ownership Fund (COF) for funding to assist the huge backlog of repairs and maintenance required. Talks about the future of the hall are still ongoing with the PCC, and Robert was hopeful that an agreement would be reached to secure the future of the hall for community use.

The challenges of the Hall design and the true extent of dilapidation was laid out, together with proposed repair and renovation work and possibilities for future development, by deputy chair Mitch Peacock.

In questions from the floor, the operational feasibility and that of funding future maintenance were dealt with, before a brief exchange broke out within the audience when the question of whether the church should be funding the remedial work, a theme that continued throughout supportive conversations over light refreshments.

Local Member of Parliament, Caroline Ansell attended to offer support again, after helping Robert and Mitch during their research into COF with officials in Westminster.

Meads County Councilor, Brett Wright, another supporter of the venture, was most encouraging about the proposal to include off-road disabled parking, and offered help and advice.

The event also marked the start of fundraising, where the main focus was on pledges towards the match funding required for COF. Gift Aid registration is expected very soon, and will help boost the value of donations, which are also required to fund professional fees ahead of a COF decision. More details can be found on the charity’s website, https://meadsecc.org/