Sutherland Memorial Hall – the community asset…

October 13, 2022| News + Events, Past Issues

… the community can’t access

We’d heard some rumblings that organisations in Burpham who had historically used Sutherland Memorial Hall were now finding it difficult to renew their agreements or unable to book the hall. We spoke to one of these, Burpham Wellbeing, about the issues.

When Burpham Wellbeing put the first Burpham Wellfest together and asked GBC to hire the hall back in May 2021 they thought the reason the answer was ‘no’ was because it was undergoing a refit.

Following the refurbishment, 15 months of community patience and an estimated 6,080 unused hours of available hall hire later and the party line from GBC is that it ‘does not have the resources’ to hire the hall.

Representatives of Burpham Wellbeing, Burpham Church, Burpham Community Association, and Residents 4 Guildford & Villages have since formed an informal group which has had meetings with representatives of the council to pursue and progress the issue.

Leaders of the Council & the Lib Dems, additional Councillors with interests in community projects and Burpham’s local Councillor George Potter have all been alerted to the issue on numerous occasions – some have responded to express support however, to date, no action has been taken.

Burpham Neighbourhood Forum, Burpham Football Club, Burpham Cricket Club, the nurseries that operate in the hall and the cricket pavilion have, in various ways, been involved with the debate either directly with GBC, with Burpham Wellbeing or both.

The Hall is not the only asset in the Park that’s hard to access… Reports of issues trying to hire the tennis courts are on-going. Many cannot do so in a suitable timeframe and those that have an on-going booking are unable to pay GBC for the hire as there is no system in place. We’ve heard of outstanding fees in excess of £1K that can not be paid, despite continued efforts to do so.

In the last meeting with GBC we were told a short-term solution would be devised for rapid access and management of Sutherland Memorial Hall whilst a longer-term arrangement was organised.

After the meeting GBC reported back that the paperwork for the short-term solution would take as long to organise as that for the longer-term one, so as an option it was taken off the table. GBC did make efforts to ensure the hall was available for Burpham Wellfest 2022 in the interim and for that we are grateful.

The paperwork for the long-term solution was promised in August. It is now September and, as this article is being written, has yet to arrive.

A meeting of the informal group has been set for Tuesday 20 September 2022. Its agenda is to formulate a response to GBC either in response to the paperwork if it is received or without said paperwork if it is not.

Any member of the community that would like to contribute to the meeting with messages of support, ideas for on-going management or memories of when they have hired the hall and for what occasion should email If they’d like copies of the meeting minutes they should do the same.

If high volumes of responses and requests are received a public meeting will be held at a larger venue – but one thing’s for sure, it won’t be at Sutherland Memorial Hall.