Call to save Baldock Town Hall

PUBLISHED: 10:19 13 January 2011

Baldock town hall

Baldock town hall

Daniel WIlson

CALLS to save a historic town hall from being sold by North Herts Dictrict Council were heard by councillors and officers earlier this week

The Baldock Town Hall Group addressed the Baldock Area Committee on Monday in a bid to save the town’s vacant Victorian hall, which was on a list of properties being considered for disposal by NHDC.

The group wants to lease the building, which has stood empty since July, 2009, to host community events.

But it was discovered on Monday night the cabinet meeting that would decide the hall’s fate had been pushed back to March 23.

Councillors proposed to give the group 12 months, by removing Baldock Town Hall from the sale list, to create a viable financial plan as well as granting them the use of council officers to help build a business case.

However both of the committee’s decisions need to be ratified by NHDC’s executive later this month.

“We are very pleased with the result of the initial discussions and the plans they are going to put forward,” said Chris Gomm, head of the campaign group, comprised of a variety of the town’s interest groups including representatives from the Baldock Mail, The Baldock Festival, and the town’s museum.

“Our next step is to start building a business plan and take up the offer of the council.”

However the plan was not without criticism, with Cllr Andrew Young querying the viability of any business plan developed.

“I think this is going to be extremely difficult for you to come up with a business plan.In my honest opinion, I think you will probably come up with a very good paperwork. Whether it will actually work, we don’t really know until it happens,” he told Mr Gomm.

“Having said that I think it’s absolutely our duty to allow as much time as possible for this group to put forward their plan and if they can put forward a plan it will be absolutely perfect for that building and the people of Baldock,” he said.

The town hall is in need of many thousands of pounds of redevelopment work and, despite being empty costs NHDC £1,500 annually in building maintenance.

Despite the expense of bringing the building up to code councillor Michael Muir wants the people of Baldock to be given the same chance that residents in neighbouring Hitchin have.

The Hitchin project will amalgamate the town’s and Letchworth GC’s museums and volunteers are in the process of securing £850,000 of funding.

Cllr Muir said: “Baldock’s community should be given the same chance as Hitchin, that they can take over the building and it should have the support of the officers who are designing the business plan.

“Every help should be been given to the people of Baldock as the people of Hitchin.”

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