Controversy over the future of Saltcoats Town Hall deepened this week after North Ayrshire Council appeared to hand responsibility for the building to the Irvine Bay Regeneration Company.
A meeting of Saltcoats traders, held last week, was told by a representative of Irvine Bay that the Council was due to “hand over the keys” last Monday (August 8). A further development has seen the private regeneration company designated as “Lead partner” in a proposal to turn the Town Hall into “a hub”, to include office and retail space, in addition to 600 square-metres of “community letting space”.
The redevelopment plan is listed as one of a number of bids for funding that ‘might’ be made to the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency. Projected costs are detailed at around £3-million, the same amount initially set-aside by North Ayrshire Council for a refurbishment of the Town Hall.
The previous £3-million commitment to renovate Saltcoats Town Hall was made by Labour councillors prior to the last Council Election in 2007. However, after the election, the funding was reduced to £2-million, and was then completely withdrawn. The Town Hall was closed by the Labour-run Council in April 2009.
The latest £3-million renovation plan comes two weeks before a by-election in the Saltcoats & Stevenston Ward, and less than a year from the next full Council Election in May 2012.
Saltcoats & Stevenston Independent councilor Ronnie McNicol has consistently pursued answers over what happened to the £3-million previously promised by Labour councilors. Only £1-million was reallocated – to a community centre in Largs – and Cllr McNicol has challenged Labour Council Leader David O’Neill to explain what happened to the other £2-million that should have been used to refurbish Saltcoats Town Hall. No Labour councillor has been able to provide an answer.