Having read the report about Blake’s Cottage in the Post (18/11/16) I felt that I had to respond in order to clarify some points and bring about balance in the report which sadly was lacking. It was disappointing to find that the Post has given this coverage without comment from members of the Trust who now own the cottage.
When plans were being made to purchase the cottage I was approached to see if I and the county council could support this venture. I did not hesitate to show my approval for this scheme as I am a great believer in preserving our heritage.
Following this approach I wrote to Louise Goldsmith, the Leader of West Sussex County Council to see if we as a County Council could help. A meeting was set up and she showed great enthusiasm for supporting the purchase of the Cottage. An application to the Members Big Society Fund supported by myself was submitted and a grant of £10,000 was awarded towards the purchase costs.
I would like to make it very clear that the objectives of the purchase were made very evident to me from the very beginning and have not changed since despite what Beryl Kingston, pictured above, has to say about this.
Tim Heath stated quite clearly that they wanted to demolish the modern 1970s addition at the rear of the cottage and return it to a period cottage when Blake lived there. They also intended building a visitor centre on the site.
There is one important point that has to be made and that the trust does intend allowing public access contrary to the rumour-mongering that Beryl Kingston is promoting in the village. The size and siting of the cottage do not allow for coach-loads of visitors nor would the residents of Felpham want to see that. The opening of the cottage has to be carefully managed and there will be times when the public will be allowed in.
In addition to this, steps have recently been taken to secure the structure contrary to what is being said. The state of the cottage is not an overnight occurrence and has been in decay for many years. Why is it that Beryl Kingston has all of a sudden become concerned about this? Did she not petition the previous owner about the state of the cottage? I doubt it very much.
I have been aware of the views being promoted by Beryl Kingstone and her colleagues for some time now and am very angry at the line being followed.
Just to make readers aware, the bad press that has been generated by Beryl Kingston has undermined the efforts I have made in gaining interest and support from the county council. The opportunity to attract large sums of financial backing has been jeopardised as a result of the negative campaign being orchestrated. Further applications for public money are probably doomed to failure.
The cottage is in new ownership and quite what Beryl hopes to achieve I do not know. Finally, I would urge all those who attended the meeting in Felpham to reject what has been said and get behind the Trust.
The trust always said that a substantial sum of money would be needed for the work intended and it is reasonable to expect that they could achieve the target sum of money with support from the wider community. There is much to do and I just do not want to see this project being undermined. This crusade against the Trust is very damaging and it has to stop!
Graham Jones, West Sussex county councillor for Felpham