Council leaders agree to remove '˜to let' signs from '˜at risk' DH Lawrence centre

Council chiefs have agreed to remove '˜to let' signs from the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre following a storm of protests from campaigners who are fighting to keep the venue open.

Eastwood MP Gloria De Piero penned an open letter to leaders at Broxtowe Borough Council after the signs appeared on the museum last week - just days after a £20,000 Arts Council cash boost was announced.

The authority has also said that it is backing the drive to explore ways of keeping the centre open and making it financially viable.

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Council leader Richard Jackson said: ““Broxtowe Borough Council recognises that the closure of the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre is a sensitive issue and as a sign of respect to the passionate attitude of local people towards DH Lawrence, has made the decision the remove the ‘To Let’ sign from outside of the D.H Lawrence Centre building.

“The council will continue to work with partners to help investigate potential options for the future of the centre. It will also continue to explore other options, including carrying out market testing of the site, should this not be possible.

“The council fully supports the feasibility study and will continue to work in partnership with Arts Council England as a positive step towards ensuring DH Lawrence remains an important focus in Eastwood.”

The centre, which is due to close at the end of March, looked like it may have been thrown a lifeline when the Arts Council cash was made available to explore ways of keeping the heritage site open.

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But within days of the announcement, the ‘to let’ signs had appeared on the building.

In response, Ms De Piero said: ““I very much welcome this news and the acknowledgement from Broxtowe Borough Council that the link between DH Lawrence and Eastwood is very important to local people.

“I hope that the council, Arts Council England, myself and the other parties interested in securing the future of the heritage centre can now work together towards building a bigger and brighter future for it.”

In her letter to Councillor Jackson last week, Ms De Piero had said: “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.

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“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.

“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.”

PICTURED: The DH Lawrence Heritage Centre in Eastwood, and MP Gloria De Piero.