Stanhope Hall is a “valuable asset” for Horncastle says chairman amid criticism

Bill Aron at Horncastle's Stanhope Hall EMN-140508-083238001
Bill Aron at Horncastle's Stanhope Hall EMN-140508-083238001

Horncastle’s historic Stanhope Hall has been hailed as a “viable and valuable asset” for the town amid criticism of the way it is being run.

The hall, which is used by a host of town-based organisations, is administered by a trustees and a management committee chaired by town and county councillor Bill Aron.

The News can reveal eight trustees and committee members have resigned in the last couple of years.

One of the eight - Gerry O’Neill - says he resigned over “several issues”, one of which was the way the hall was being “governed.”

Mr O’Neill outlined his reasons to the town council, which said it would hold an investigation.

However, he says subsequent discussions about the hall were held in closed sessions at council meetings.

Mr O’Neill said he is still waiting for answers, 18 months after submitting his complaints.

He added: “I assume it was covered up, swept under the carpet and ignored.

“As people tax money has been used - with funding from other public bodies, the state of unsatisfactory governance on a Charitable Trust status community project is a public disgrace.”

Coun Aron hit back and stressed the hall was an increasingly popular venue.

He added: “It is unfortunate eight people have resigned but that is what happens.

“Stanhope Hall is consistently held up as a good example of a community run project.

“English Heritage recently contacted us to say they would be using it as a positive case history.

“It is a viable and valuable asset for the people of Horncastle.”

Coun Aron defended his record, saying he stood down as chairman most years but was persuaded to carry on.

He revealed the Hall was “financially sound” and stressed he was not personally responsible for town council policy regarding closed sessions.