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Release date:
Tuesday, 24 June 2014
Brighton and Hove City Council
Image credit: Portslade Community Forum

The historic Portslade Town Hall is celebrating a new lease of civic life after a massive refurbishment programme that includes creating a housing office,  Neighbourhood Policing Team and new meeting rooms.

Councillor Jason Kitcat, Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council said:

”I am so pleased to see this lovely old building returned to the local community in such a fundamental way: the Victoria Road housing office will be incorporated in the hall, alongside the Portslade Neighbourhood Policing Team which will be so convenient for tenants, while the site of the old housing office will be redeveloped for badly needed housing. Victoria Road Housing Office has moved to the hall as part of a wider plan by the council to redevelop the original site for housing, and will be joined by the new Sussex Police Community Hub.”

Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp, the Brighton and Hove Police Commander, said:

“We are very pleased to be working alongside Brighton and Hove City Council in Portslade. This project comes a year after we relocated the Hove Neighbourhood Policing Team into Hove Town Hall, a move about which we have received very positive feedback.

“The facilities in Portslade give our officers a local base from which they can respond, enabling them to spend more time out and in the local community. The old police boxes in Easthill and Hove Park contained no IT equipment and were poorly used. Now we will have the opportunity to spend more time with local people and work together to identify and tackle local priorities.”

Local officers will be available to talk to at Portslade between 11 am and 1pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays. They will be trialling these hours for the first 3 months.

Local community group Purple People Kitchen are catering for the event, giving a taster of all their hard work and community food projects to come. They will have use of the new kitchen and the gardens, where they will be working with residents to grow their own food allotment style and running a Food Bank every Friday afternoon. .

On launch day a variety of local community groups will be gathered in the hall ready to talk to visitors about all their work in Portslade. There will also be a naming of the rooms in the Town Hall, some of which will be available for hire. Service users, staff and local residents have already made a list of suggested names for the rooms, and all those attending on the day will have the chance to vote for their favourites.

Local Historian Robin Hurst of the Portslade Community Forum, said:

“I am looking forward to seeing some faces from the past at our local history stand. This building has a fascinating history, having started life in 1923 as the recreation hall for the Ronuk* factory. Many of us have fond memories of working there, and are delighted that this important period will now be remembered.”

History of Portslade Town Hall
Some older residents will remember when Portslade Town Hall was first built in 1923 as a recreational facility for the workers at the Ronuk Factory*, which made Ronseal ‘it does what it says on the tin’ furniture and floor polish.

It wasn’t until the early 1960’s that the building became Portslade Town Hall when it was sold to the local district council after the business moved to another part of the country.

In 1971 Portslade Urban District Council commissioned a very Avant garde mural for the hall, paying local modern artist and resident, Barrie Huntbach the grand sum of £15.00. Now it is still in pride of place and a fascinating piece of work drawing on local imagery and themes.

Art and music are brought together with the famous Compton organ, which still remains in the main hall and has survived thanks to a number of local enthusiasts who culled the working parts from three old cinema theatre organs during the 1980s. The Reverend Michael Maine will be demonstrating its qualities on the day, bringing back memories of film shows that would play regularly accompanied by live music.

Barrie Huntbach
In the early 2000s Barrie Huntbach went on to paint a mural for Emmaus in Portslade. Barrie had his art studio there in the 1970s when Emmaus was a convent where Barrie worked in the laundry.

Barrie sadly died in 2006 aged 71. His family hold an extensive collection of his much admired surrealist/symbolist work, while at least a quarter lies in private hands. They will be attending the launch and have said that he would be delighted that his mural is still very much in pride of place.

Neighbourhood Policing at Portslade
Find out more about the work of the Neighbourhood Policing Teams through the website or by dropping in and talking to local officers at Portslade every Wednesday and Thursday between 11am and 1pm.”

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