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Rumours of Fairfield Halls' demise have been greatly exaggerated

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A COUNCILLOR whipped up a Twitter storm after he announced Fairfield Halls is on the brink of closure at a residents' association meeting.

Michael Neal, Tory member for Croham, said at the monthly South Croydon Community Association meeting that Fairfield would fail health and safety tests if maintenance was not carried out within the next year.

But Tim Godfrey, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, has accused him of "cheap politics".

Cllr Neal said at the meeting: "£2 million needs to be spent over the next five years based on the amount of work that needs doing. If they [the council] don't spend that it is likely it will close."

The Friends of Park Hill Park tweeted this news, saying: "Fairfield Halls within 12 months of closure breaking news from councillor at @southCroydonCA meeting."

And quickly Croydon's Twitter community were convinced Fairfield was about to shut its doors, with Cllr Godfrey stepping in to quash the rumours, tweeting: "It's only breaking news if you are a Twitter mug. Tory refurb plans had a closure. We upped pace and no closure."

Cllr Neal has since said on his blog he was concerned at a council meeting earlier in the month when Cllr Godfrey refused to commit to giving Fairfield the £33 million the Conservatives promised for refurbishment when they were in power.

He said: "In the SCCA meeting last night I echoed concerns from the Conservatives and residents after the last full council meeting when Cllr Godfrey was asked whether all the £33 million allocated would go directly to Fairfield Halls and whether money would be spent on essential maintenance.

"Cllr Godfrey's reply was vague as reported in the Croydon Advertiser and non-committal, potentially leaving the Fairfield Halls with an uncertain future."

But Cllr Godfrey says the new council regime has spent £400,000 on Fairfield in the five months since Labour came into power, including refurbishment of the Arnhem Gallery, and the installation of studio space and live broadcast equipment.

He said: "It's why Croydon politics is seen to be poisoned. We need grown up debate about how we do these things and how we safeguard the tax-payers purse."

Cllr Godfrey said the £33million pledged by the Tories for the refurbishment is still in the budget, but Labour will try not to spend it all if they can help it.

He said: "The important thing is that Fairfield will be properly refurbished.

"If we can reduce that spend that will be a bonus for the tax payers of Croydon and the right thing to do, but we won't be putting at risk the full refurbishment of Fairfield."

The Advertiser has been unable to reach Cllr Neal for a comment.

Rumours of Fairfield Halls' demise have been greatly exaggerated


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