Eastwood MP Gloria De Piero has written an open letter to council chiefs after a ‘to let’ signs appeared on the town’s DH Lawrence Centre this week - just days after a £20,000 Arts Council cash boost was announced.
The centre, which is due to close at the end of March, looked like it may have been thrown a lifeline last week, when the cash was made available to explore ways of keeping the heritage site open.
But within days of the announcement, the ‘to let’ signs appeared on the building, leading to Gloria penning a furious letter to Broxtowe Borough Council leader Richard Jackson, saying that the signs could put the feasibility study at risk.
The letter reads:
I am writing as a matter of urgency in response to the extremely concerning news that To Let signs have been put up on the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre in Eastwood this week.
As you know, I have been working with yourself, with others at Broxtowe Borough Council and with a range of interested parties to try and save this valuable cultural and community asset, ever since it was revealed that the heritage centre was at risk of being shut.
A high profile campaign backed by some big names in the world of film, television and theatre has been run to emphasise the importance of keeping the heritage centre open and of using the name of DH Lawrence more effectively, to generate tourism and to make the most of Eastwood’s history.
The Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, DH Lawrence Society and Nottingham’s UNESCO City of Literature team have all been involved in the discussions about the future of the heritage centre, and just last month the Arts Council revealed that it was investing £20,000 for a feasibility study on the ‘Creative Options for Eastwood’ to find a new, exciting and possibly different future for it.
It is for this reason that I am extremely upset to find out that To Let signs have gone up at the centre without explanation or prior warning.
The presence of these signs and the lack of communication about them is certainly not in the spirit of the discussions we have had thus far and I have already been contacted by worried campaigners who do not know what this means.
There are fears that the signs will prejudice the feasibility study and that they make the study itself nothing but a sham, with the council having already made up its mind about the future of the heritage centre.
Please reassure me as quickly as possible that no decision has been made by the council without a full public consultation, because as it stands, I feel we have been let down and so do the people of Eastwood, who I represent.
Have the signs been put up in error and will they be taken down until a final decision on the future of the centre is made, once the results of the study are in?
I have already asked if the council can inform me about how the feasibility study will be carried out but have not yet received a reply. Can you now confirm if a lead on this project has been appointed and how this project is going to progress?
I look forward to your reply.
The centre, which is based in Durban House, was built in 1896 for The Barber Walker mining company and was once the wages offices for Brinsley Colliery, where DH Lawrence would go as a boy to collect his father’s pay packet.
It is also a venue for the popular month-long annual Lawrence festival.
PICTURED: MP Gloria De Piero visiting Durban house, with Councillor Milan Radulovic, and Nottingham university professors Stephen Mumford and Sarah O’Hara during the campaign to save the DH Lawrence Centre.