So, as predicted - front page headline of the local paper : "Artists & Council Row over Church".
This is from the paper's website, posted on 04/01/07 : http://www.hastingstoday.co.uk
"A row has erupted between council chiefs and a group of artists, which claims it is being given its marching orders.
South Coast Artists (SoCo), based in St Mary-in-the-Castle in Pelham Crescent, is furious councillors are considering handing the management of the building over to Sonrise Church.
The group has held numerous art exhibitions at the venue since the organisation was formed in July 2004.
Robin Holtom, chairman of SoCo, said: "The council is trying to evict us, yet we have turned St Mary-in-the Castle into a successful art gallery. We have made good use of this space to brighten up the seafront and raise the cultural profile of the town."
Hastings Council manages the venue as a gallery for SoCo and takes 30 bookings a year for the auditorium.
Residents said the council's proposal to give Sonrise Church a lease from April 1 raised 'serious alarm bells'.
John Clark, of St Mary's Terrace, said: "How can the local electorate and ratepayers be sure the financial negligence and mismanagement displayed by the previous administration in the appalling recycling saga is not going to be repeated by the present one?
"The online report for Monday's cabinet meeting states the annual revenue cost of St Mary-in-the-Castle is £138,850.
"It also says the proposals will save £66,000 in the first full year after the transfer and a further saving of £35,000 will be made in repairs and renewal. But one wonders how these savings are going to be made without any details of the terms of the lease.
"Latest available figures show the centre's total income for April 2004 to March 2005 was £84,066 with expenditure at £55,451."
Erica Smith, of Waterworks Road, fears Sonrise Church may exclude certain groups. She said: "I am concerned one of the aims of the church, as is the case with other evangelical churches, is to try to discourage homosexuality. The equal opportunities statement on its website states all minority groups are welcome to join, but it doesn't make a clear statement about how tolerant it is of 'active' homosexual relationships.
"St Mary-in-the-Castle is currently one of only two large venues in the town which are wheelchair accessible. I would like assurance that if this venue is to be handed over to an evangelical church, it will remain open for use by all members of our community.
"It is too valuable a resource to be allowed to become exclusive and was, thanks to a broad-based, and long-drawn-out community campaign, with a lot of hard-earned fundraising, this building was saved from ruin."
Under council proposals Sonrise Church will be given a five-year lease from April 1 and be charged with refurbishing the building.
It also plans to develop the ground floor area as a coffee bar, market the venue as a conference centre, and make the building available to schools, the university and local charities."