Lingfield Guest House and Library campaigners win trust battle
THE local community will have more say over the future of Lingfield Library and Guest House following a ruling made last week.
After a stalemate that has lasted more than 18 months, Surrey County Council leader David Hodge finally signed off on a plan to restructure the building's trust arrangement, allowing local groups to have more input on how the small community building is run. The site will also receive £50,000 to improve facilities.
The Lingfield Guest House in Vicarage Road dates back to 1474 and was left to the council in trust by Arthur Baldwin Hayward in 1954, on the understanding it would be used partly for a library or museum and stay for the benefit of the local community.
Funds from rents or fees from the site must be used solely for the restoration and maintenance of the building.
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But Lingfield residents have been trying to get the trust transferred to community control, saying the council has not been running it in their best interest.
Last week, Cllr Hodge agreed to their wishes.
The Lingfield Guest House Advisory Committee will now be disbanded and a new board of trustees will be organised, including representatives from Surrey County Council, Lingfield Parish Council, Tandridge District Council, Dormansland Parish Council, the Surrey Historic Buildings Trust, and four independent members of the community.
The council has also pledged £50,000 to renovate the Guest House, which according to some residents has fallen into disrepair during the prolonged dispute.
The Charity Commission will need to sign off on the new plans before the trustees are chosen by their respective groups.
Rita Russell, who is a member of the Library Committee, said: "It's a pity it has taken this long to get here. The county council felt there had to be trustees from local bodies but that's not essential. Quite often the Charity Commission doesn't want a lot of local bodies involved but we have a good mix of people and that's the best thing."
She added that once the new trustees were in place, they would start to work with the library service about the best way to run the facility. A spokesman for Surrey County Council said it had nothing further to add.