Belford Parish Council will support the efforts to save a community building – if that is what villagers want.
The pledge, relating to Belford and District Village War Memorial Hall, came at last week’s meeting of the council and followed an opportunity to clear the air following the Gazette report of the November meeting.
The hall, which houses the Community Club/Skinners Arms, has ‘an extremely bad infestation of dry rot’ and damp, with repair costs unknown at this stage but likely to run to tens of thousands of pounds. The building is owned by the village and is a registered charity overseen by a group of trustees.
At the November meeting, parish councillors had some questions and reservations about the situation, but the trustees were annoyed by comments made relating to what had happened to the proceeds of the sale of land some years ago.
As reported earlier this month, this money went to the community club, not the trustees.
The trustees attended last week’s meeting to reiterate this fact, with chairman Stuart Reay adding that they had been ‘particularly incensed’ by the report.
Jim Hutchinson reported that the trustees had wanted the proceeds to be used for the building’s upkeep, but this was voted down. “It’s a pity that couldn’t have been set aside for the maintenance of the building,” he added.
Another trustee said that the club’s accounts show the money and what it was used for. As the club has been making a loss, it has ‘dwindled’ over the years.
The club’s chairman, George Morrison, was also at the meeting and said that a builder had come out and they believed the dry rot had been tackled; the full extent of the issue only became clear when the floorboards were lifted.
Moving forward, those involved are keen to know if the village wishes to save the building as a community asset as it is likely to involve a significant sum of money.
Chairman, Coun Brenda Stanton said: “I would like to think we could help you, we certainly couldn’t give you money because our precept is very limited, but we could provide other support.”
Mr Reay said that in its current guise, as a licensed premises, it would not be possible to apply for grants, but money may be available if it were a village hall.