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There are growing fears the future of Brodick hall could be under threat unless the people of Arran make their voices heard.
A much delayed consultation over the future of community buildings across North Ayrshire has now resumed but, because of Covid restrictions, it has gone completely under the radar of most people.
All council buildings are currently up for review as to whether they will, in fact, continue as a council-run building or be shut down unless a local group is willing to take over the entire building and grounds as a community asset transfer.
As well as the hall being widely used in more normal times it is also home of Brodick Early Years and Arran Library, which is also part of the review. Due to the current Covid situation the nursery has been able to use the hall full time due to the fact no other public groups are able to use or rent it
But the parents are among those who fear for the future of the hall could be at risk unless the people of Arran make their voices heard.
Chairperson of Brodick Early Years Jenny Duncan told the Banner: ‘Many readers may remember there was a public meeting held May 2019 about this exact issue. The turnout was very good and voices were heard, we were told at the time that Brodick hall would most likely remain as is due to the fact we are an island community with very little other community buildings.
‘Nevertheless the same issue has reared its ugly head again. Although this time it is a little less obvious way as it is all being done digitally. No meeting can be arranged this time which would undoubtedly have merited yet another great turnout so therefore we are at risk of the true voice of Arran not being heard and the council thinking we do not care what happens to the hall, nursery or library. So what we need now is the readers of the Banner to spread the word and to let us be heard via the council consultation page, telephone or email.
‘Any reader who cares about the future of the hall, whether is be as a library user, a nursery parent/grandparent or a member if the community who would like to continue going to aerobics classes, pipe band practice, coffee mornings or dances to please, please, please get involved and get their thoughts heard. If they don’t then the council will think we don’t care and therefore will close the hall and leave it up to a local community group to take on.
‘It is a large building with many outgoing maintenance costs and staffing costs so therefore well beyond the nursery or hall committee abilities to maintain. We would also hate to see the library be moved else where or change to just the library van which is a possibility.
‘At the moment there is an online consultation which has been open since the beginning of March and has had very few responses so far. It is open until May 5. All you need to write is how the current plan the council have of a community asset transfer would effect you as a member of the public … remembering that there may not be anyone willing to take on the transfer at all and therefore risk closure. If the online consultation is not for you then there is a phone number to call where someone will talk you through it. You may also email the council with your thoughts.
‘The main worry is that this all goes under the radar much like the public toilet closures, the hall will be closed because it did not look like there was enough care or interest. It will then fall to us as a community to take it on and reopen, with a lot more work and finances involved.
‘I do not believe for a second that the Arran community would wish to see the hall close, I just do not think enough people know about the current threat due to the way it is being publicised due to the lock down situation.
It is just over a year ago since the nursery won their battle with the council to allow it stay open and allow them to adapt part of the current hall/library to form a permanent nursery with its own separate entrance, toilets and food preparation area.
However, early estimates put the cost of this at around £250,000 and the nursery would need to provide the funds, labour and project management to do so.
‘With certain grants available, continued support of the community and local businesses this is something we hope we can achieve when the time comes albeit a huge but exciting challenge ahead,’ Jenny added.
How to get involved:
Until May 5, you can view and comment on the proposals at:
Those who cannot access the online consultation can e mail: email@example.com or call the council on 01294 310000 and hold ‘for all other enquiries’ and we will set up a time to call you back and go through the consultation.
The phoneline will be open Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm, between now and May 6.
Details of the consultation is also be issued alongside Council Tax letters.