Community fights to keep its town hall

PUBLISHED: 10:52 30 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:17 06 May 2010

NINE out of 10 residents want their town hall to remain in community hands, a survey has revealed. A group is fighting to keep Baldock town hall a community project and put pressure on North Herts District Council to widen public participation. At the beg

NINE out of 10 residents want their town hall to remain in community hands, a survey has revealed.

A group is fighting to keep Baldock town hall a community project and put pressure on North Herts District Council to widen public participation.

At the beginning of the year, consultants were asked to assess the options for the local landmark and the survey was carried out by the Town Hall Group. Three meetings took place, for businesses, community groups and those involved in the town centre strategy meetings.

Three options were put forward including the building being sold, remaining in community use or a mixture of both.

The council agreed to support the idea of putting together a business plan for it to remain in community use with the mixture of the two as a back-up option.

It has been estimated to cost over half a million pounds just to get the hall up and running again which would come out of the North Herts taxpayers' pocket.

Councillors said they want the hall to be for community use and have supported the town hall group, but this could only work if the project was self generating.

Baldock councillor Andrew Young believes that the people pushing to keep the town hall for the community don't realise that they would be paying for it themselves.

He said: "Wouldn't it be better to spend money on newer, more useful facilities that don't cost as much and would be in a more suitable place."

Some suggestions for the building have included an expanded museum, a tourist office, a theatre or an internet café.

The building is old and usage was suspended after a ceiling caved in. As well as the issue of the state of the site there is also the practicality of two community centres close by each other.

The Town Hall Group says that in the worst instance the hall will be demolished, but councillors stated that there is no chance of that happening at any stage.

The group is calling for help in putting together its business case for community use and wants to hear from any groups, societies or organisations interested in using the space.

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