Boost for campaign to save Baldock Town Hall

A PUBLIC meeting to discuss bringing Baldock Town Hall back into community use has been hailed “a great success”.

The meeting at Baldock Community Centre on Friday was held by Baldock Town Hall Ltd – a group made up of a number of the town’s organisations, including the Baldock Town and District Partnership.

The group has been given until March next year by North Herts District Council (NHDC) to come up with a viable business case for the building, which has stood empty for two years.

The campaign group wants to use it for the arts, as well as for education and training purposes, but if the business case fails then the council could opt to sell the building.

About 50 people attended Friday’s meeting, when the results of a survey commissioned by Baldock Town Hall Ltd were discussed.

The survey highlighted problems such as rising damp, a collapsed ceiling, rotting window sills and overflowing downpipes.

“Many people had not realised the poor condition the building has been left in,” said Chris Gomm, a member of Baldock Town Hall Ltd.

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He continued: “One thing that did come out of the meeting was the enthusiasm of people for this building, especially the young.

“It proved to us that we are absolutely correct in trying to save this building from disposal by NHDC for community use.

“The younger people are very keen to have a music venue for the many bands and individuals in and around the town.

“Baldock has a strong music background, both in the schools and in the community.

“Balstock is reputed to be one of the largest free music festivals in the county, if not the country, with well over 100 bands playing this year. The organisers see the town hall as a central venue for future Balstock festivals.”

Other suggestions for the future use of the building, mooted at the meeting, included a venue for theatre production rehearsals, a cinema, or an exam centre for performing arts.

“We were very much encouraged by the meeting and are now planning the next steps, which include the invitation of Graeme La Roche - the main organiser of Balstock - to our next committee meeting to discuss the music options in more detail,” said Mr Gomm.

The group hopes to have an initial discussion with NHDC about its business plan in November.

Mr Gomm also said the group is in discussion with the council over ongoing routine maintenance.

“We have given our view of what they should be doing now to prevent further deterioration of the building fabric,” he explained.

“We are concerned that the building will have the winter to go through and is in danger of significant further deterioration if some works are not undertaken.”

Mr Gomm concluded: “All in all we deemed the evening a great success and a boost to take us to the next stage.”