Friday, 28 March 2014

Town Hall renovation a step nearer

A major renovation of Saltcoats Town Hall will take a step closer this week when North Ayrshire Council’s ruling SNP Cabinet considers new funding proposals.

Councillors will hear that changes to the initial plan – including the relocation of 25 Social Services staff to the facility – will bring the total cost to £3.7m. The Council has secured £1.262m of external funding, which will be added to the initial £1.9m allocated in 2012 as a result of a Budget motion lodged by Saltcoats & Stevenston councillors Ronnie McNicol (Independent) and Willie Gibson (SNP), pictured above. The balance of £538,000 is to come from the local authority’s Capital Fund.

Once complete in 2016, the Town Hall will boast a 200-person main function hall, 100-seat lesser hall/marriage suite, a heritage space and civic exhibition area, visitor information point and modern office accommodation.

As previously reported by the3towns, a £3m revamp of the Town Hall was originally announced in early 2007 by the then Labour administration of North Ayrshire Council. However, after the local authority election in May 2007, at which the Labour administration was returned to power, the funding for renovation work was reduced to £1.9m, with the balance (£1.1m) being reallocated to a project for a new community centre at the Stevenson Institute in Largs.

As a result of Labour councillors’ inaction, Saltcoats Town Hall continued to deteriorate and was finally closed to the public. At a subsequent Council meeting, Cllr Ronnie McNicol forced the then Labour Leader, Cllr David O’Neill, to admit that the £1.9m had actually been removed from the local authority’s budget and Labour had no plans to do anything with the Town Hall. That remained the position of the Council until Ronnie McNicol and Willie Gibson secured funding of £1.9m in February 2012, which kick-started the current renovation project.

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