Do not deprive us of this jewel in city
I strongly object to the closure of the gardens as part of the closure of Belgrave Hall ("We want our museum back", Mercury, January 26).
The Belgrave Hall gardens are part of our historical heritage, a unique gem in this part, or indeed the whole, of the city, and a haven of quality design and planting, peace and tranquility.
Who decided, without consultation, to deprive us of this asset? What right has the council to make such a decision without consultation?
I feel very angry about it. We need improved access to the gardens, not less.
The community should not be deprived of its right to free access to the gardens all year round – a right much appreciated by long-established residents who live up and down the riverside, like myself and my husband, who are retired and love to visit the gardens as often as possible, as part of our daily riverside walks.
I believe the council plans to spend £139,000 on making the hall fit for use as a wedding venue. Why not instead find the £40,000 it takes to keep the museum open?
I understand there is a draft list of proposed events when the museum and gardens will be open. I feel it highly unlikely most of these events will bring in the desired income, even to cover the costs of the staff on duty.
On this list, the gardens will only be freely accessible on about 10 very limited occasions. Why not find the money to keep the museum and gardens open to the public and hold some of the proposed events, such as the workshops, courses, drop-in activities and other events, for which admission would be charged for those taking part, as frequently and successfully happens at other museums throughout the city?
There would then be no need to deprive the public of their gardens.
If it is decided to proceed with use as a wedding venue, this would need extremely careful handling, in the first place because the proposed marquee should not be allowed to damage or interfere with the existing garden layout.
Any marquee should be purely temporary and dismantled immediately after any event.
Access to this marquee would need to be restricted to the guests only, but access for the wedding guests to the rest of the gardens should be freely available to them along with the public, who, it should not be forgotten, own the whole place already, anyway.
The whole proposal needs drastic rethinking.
More access, not less, should be the aim in all such public assets.
Our elected representatives should respect the wishes of residents, and not impose unwanted changes destructive of valued heritage assets.
Anne Graf, Leicester.