I had avoided publicising the details of the private meeting I held with the managers of the Basepoint business centre to explore ways of resolving their unilateral dismantling of the Ropetackle sign on what we all know as the Ropetackle building.
However, the travesty that is the account issued by Basepoint’s regional manager Karen Osborne needs challenging.
Far from seeking to come to an ‘agreed compromise’, the response by Ms Osborne to every suggestion put forward by Ropetackle Trust chairman Martin Allen, councillor Mike Mendoza and me was ‘well, that’s not going to happen’.
The prominent ‘Basepoint’ lettering which replaced ‘Ropetackle’ is there to stay, as far as she is concerned.
We will be lucky to have a small reference to the building’s Ropetackle origins at the bottom of the main High Street approach fascia, as the photo in the Herald (September 11) revealed.
As far as Basepoint is concerned, objections to these changes are few and far between and are just by the usual disaffected suspects and the petition of over 1,000 signatures, which they refused to accept formally, was only collected under duress. Because Basepoint has a waiting list for business tenants and has made generous donations to local good causes, what they say goes, and we can just get like it or lump it.
I have no doubt that Basepoint is running a successful business in what I will always call the Ropetackle building. That does not, however, entitle them to rename the building unilaterally, giving no warning to their own tenants, let alone local people or local councillors.
When they sanded down the side of the building after removing the Ropetackle name, they did not even have the courtesy to warn the arts centre about the resulting dust mess.
Their own tenants have also complained to us about the name change. The fact is that they needed permission from Adur’s planning department to make these changes. They did not have it and as I write, they have not even applied for it retrospectively.
Thirteen years ago, I was asked to chair the working group that consulted widely on what sort of facility local people wanted on the derelict Ropetackle site.
Local people also told us they wanted to keep the name Ropetackle, associated with Shoreham since the Middle Ages.
Since then, many people have worked very hard to make Ropetackle one of the most successful arts venues in the area. The Ropetackle brand is increasingly well recognised and its association with Shoreham undoubtedly benefits businesses and residents in our town. The building also serves as the gateway to the whole prestigious Ropetackle development, which has no other prominent signage.
Basepoint may have done good work to make its own business successful since arriving in Shoreham and acquiring the building in 2012. It is a shame that they see fit to stick two fingers up at the people of Shoreham who have lived with all the trials and tribulations of the site for many more decades than they have been here.
East Worthing and Shoreham MP
and president of the Ropetackle Centre Trust
House of Commons
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