Bury Village Hall

Under the National Lockdown rules, our village hall must remain closed for social gatherings, functions, parish council meetings etc. but the venue can be used for certain exempt activities such as the provision of childcare and for education and training. We shall be liaising with our current hirers to establish which groups will be able to continue operating and will report further on this shortly.

Bury’s very own Christmas tree

In a year that has been so challenging for many, BPC has erected a Christmas tree outside the village hall to thank you all for being such a caring, helpful and kind community to your neighbours in 2020. Whilst staging a function in the village hall is not an option under current restrictions, we hope that the tree will remind you that it will soon be spring. Following the welcome news of the imminent roll-out of a vaccine, there is hope that in 2012 life will be moving back to normal and that we will be able to enjoy gathering together once more.

We should like to thank JoJo and Joseph Godfrey of Bury for kindly donating the tree.

Exciting news from Bury Parish Council: A plan for a better Village Hall

Bury Village Hall is 45 years old and has been little altered since it opened. Though there have been some useful practical improvements, there has been no review of how the building can best contribute to the potential of the Village since it opened in 1975. The events of the last few months and the lockdowns may not be the reason to reconsider the Village Hall but the effect of them has focussed some attention on how improvements to the building might make it not only more useful as a facility but also help to make it more the ‘beating heart’ of the Village.

Over that 45-year life of the Village Hall, both the village shop and the Black Dog and Duck pub have closed. Going further back, the loss of the river ferry severed the connection to Amberley and the east and, to the west, the traffic on the A29 has introduced a barrier to West Burton and Sutton. Bury is now a community that is very much dependent on its own company. The questions being asked are ‘what can we do to help make Bury more of a community’ and ‘how can the Village Hall best contribute to that aim’.

The Village Hall could be that ‘beating heart’. If there was a café, it could become a place for people to meet informally. If it was more flexibly arranged, it could become a place in which more groups could get together and enjoy. And if it ‘looked out’ rather than ‘looked in’, it could become the place that lessened the sense of social isolation that many in the Village currently feel. If it was staffed by volunteers, it would be both affordable and more engaged. And if it could have a small shop, it could offer a useful and convenient place to buy essentials without competing with the Farm Shop.

Bury is not Fittleworth and it could never justify nor sustain what that village has so admirably achieved, but it is very clear that Bury’s Village Hall could do so much more. Its location is ideal, but it always looks closed. You never know what is going on, there is little to welcome you and it isn’t a place that invites you to drop in to. Its appearance is forbidding and doesn’t add to the character of the village in which we have all chosen to live. Inside, it lacks both flexibility and a clear sense of purpose and the spaces are arranged in a manner that is limiting and uninviting.

With some careful internal rearrangements and some modest extensions, it would be possible to both fix what is wrong and transform the building to be both more useful and feel more a part of the village. An extension could accommodate new toilets that would release space in the building. A new outside stair could make the first floor independently available and allow the existing stair to be removed. And the replanning of the building’s west end could provide space for a shop/post office and café, making the entrance more obvious and offering a place that encourages people to drop in to.

The Parish Council is proposing a new plan for a better Village Hall and it will very much want to know what the village as a whole thinks about the proposal. There are clearly issues in connection with the ambition, the detail, the cost, the funding and the programme but, at this stage, the Parish Council wants to know if this is an idea worth pursuing. In the new year, it would intend to hold a series of events to test opinion and get a clear sense of direction but, before that, the next step must be to establish if, at this stage, there are any serious objections to looking into this proposal in more detail.

If there is a sense that this is something worth looking into, the Parish Council will examine and try to answer a number of questions (outlined below). The Covid context may inhibit the outcome being presented in some form of public display or exhibition but the Parish Council is committed to ensuring that everyone in the village will have the opportunity to understand what is proposed and be able to comment. No decision on how to proceed will be taken until that process is complete.

The questions the Parish Council will seek to answer are these.

1. What is the brief for the project? What is intended? How will it all function? What will it
look like?

2. What will it cost? How will it be funded? What are the risks and how will they be
managed?

3, How long will it take to complete? And how will it affect current users while the work is
being carried out?

Bury Parish Council is inviting initial comments from parishioners on this exciting proposal. Further consultations will take place when more detailed proposals are tabled. For the time being, comments on the broader concept of a more versatile, ‘beating heart’ village hall would be welcomed. Please email any suggestion and/or observations by December 24 to clerk@buryparishcouncil.org.uk

Bury Village Hall hirers

Last week in our Newsletter we explained that we were liaising with the current hirers of the village hall to establish whether they could continue with their activities in the light of the need for community centres and halls to close under the lockdown restrictions. However, the rules do permit our hall to remain open for the purposes of provision of childcare and for education – consequently the Cornflakes and Chillout Club can continue operating. This is also true of the Boathouse Ballet School which provides education in ballet to a curriculum which prepares children for a structured series of UCAS-approved exams and as a consequence is regarded as a school as opposed to a dance studio (which would not qualify for exemption).  So, we can at least continue to derive some income for the hall during the lockdown period and we hope to be welcoming back our other hirers in three weeks’ time.

As mentioned last week, Bury Green and Playground remains open but please follow the guidelines you will find on the entrance gate.

Bury Post Office

Fortunately, as our post office is effectively detached from the village hall without direct access to it, there is no need to close it and Tracy has confirmed she will be in Bury every Friday afternoon as usual during lockdown from 1.15 to 3.15pm.

Support your Post Office!

Tracy, our postmistress, has asked if we could remind everyone of some of the services Bury Post Office can provide such as postage stamps, deposit of cheques and cash to your bank, cash withdrawals up to £250, parcels service and car tax renewal. The Post Office Outreach service – of which we are a part – do monitor usage of the post office and it is important that we support Tracy to ensure its continuation. Bury Post Office is open every Friday between 1.15pm and 3.15pm.

Hirers back at Village Hall

We are pleased to report that, following the re-opening of the village hall in August, most of our regular hirers have commenced operations again under the Covid-19 guidelines governing their particular activity.

The hall now plays host to the Matt Fiddes Martial Arts Group (Tuesdays), the Boathouse Ballet School (Wednesdays) and the Bury & Pulborough Dance Club (Thursdays and Fridays). We hope shortly to welcome back the Martletts Short Mat Bowls Group (Mondays) once they have had clearance from their Association to resume in the light of the Covid-19 guidelines.

Jacqui Hillier has just this week restarted the Cornflakes and Chill Out Club in the Sydney Room – afternoons only for the time being but hopefully mornings as well in due course.

If you are interested in joining any of these groups, please email the parish clerk who can provide you with the relevant contact details.

Could we please remind residents that the village hall car park is provided for the benefit of hall users. We rely upon the income from hirers of the hall to ensure it can remain operational for the benefit of the community so now we are open for business again, if you are not a hall user (nor a tenant of Bury Parish Council) then could you please make arrangements to park elsewhere.

Bury Apple Day

Despite Covid-19 restrictions preventing us from staging Sunday’s Apple Pressing Day in the kind of carnival atmosphere we had envisaged, a number of residents attended, carrying various quantities and varieties of apples including a good collection from Pill Pond orchard.

People were most impressed by the scrater and press and the speed with which their apples were turned into many different flavours of apple juice, some of which was immediately consumed whilst enjoying the sunshine and peaceful surrounding of Bury Green. Some attendees even formed a volunteer force to pick apples from Gwen Squire’s garden, resulting in the production of enough juice to be preserved for use or sale at future village events.

We should like to say a huge vote of thanks to Chris Walker (a friend of Councillor Chris Daykin) for supplying all the equipment and managing the pressing of the apples. We all hope that in 2021 we can once again stage Apple Pressing Day as a proper event!

Apple Day

A reminder that Apple Pressing Day takes place this coming Saturday, 12th September on Bury Green (at the rear of the village hall) between 12 noon and 4.00pm. Please bring along your cooking and eating apples (not rotten or badly bruised!) and sufficient bottles for your juice, plastic if you wish to freeze the juice but we will be offering advice as to how to pasteurise in which case bottles are probably best. As a guide 2kg of apples will yield about I litre of juice. The weather forecast for Saturday looks promising and we look forward to seeing you there although please note that we are obliged to limit the attendance on the Green to 30 people so we may have to ask you to wait your turn elsewhere!

Could residents please ensure that the village hall car park is kept free on 12th September.