It’s a pity Tuesday’s first council debate about George Eliot’s house’s future, three months into our campaign, descended into angry political point-scoring.
‘Straw-man’ false arguments abounded as Labour leaders accused the opposition of demanding the council “forces” Bird Grove house’s owners into having literary tourists and associated cultural activities there.
Our campaign alongside the George Eliot Fellowship will continue to promote the developing goodwill towards potential mixed uses, through co-operation and partnerships.
The Grade II* listed building’s owners – including Labour councillor Rois Ali – and its new ‘temporary’ tenants, an Arabic education centre, have both now told us they are willing to discuss public access to visitors and George Eliot-related activities.
Our questions about conservation, planning and a removed plaque at the listed great novelist’s home still went unanswered by council leaders.
But it was good that council leader George Duggins pledged to “work with the owners” and called for George Eliot celebrations for the 2019 bicentenary and City of Culture 2021, as we have been calling for since October.