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Brodick Hall is an island asset
This is a joint submission from Brodick Hall Community Association and Brodick Improvements Committee and is our contribution to the consultation which North Ayrshire Council has requested from all interested parties regarding the future role of libraries, halls, community centres and nurseries within North Ayrshire. Being secretary of BHCA and chairperson of BIC, I believe I am writing with the support of all the members.
Very briefly regarding its history, Brodick Public Hall was created on behalf of the Duke of Hamilton in 1896, gifted to the village and by 1925 was being managed by Brodick Public Hall and Recreation Company Ltd. Due to financial problems and shortage of volunteers the hall was sold in 1977 to Cunninghame District Council for £3,000. The sale included the hall and surrounding recreational grounds. The hall was more recently taken into the control of North Ayrshire Council, which added to the premises the excellent purpose built Brodick Library which serves all of the Isle of Arran. These premises are widely recognised as more than a village hall but an island asset.
Brodick Hall Community Association was formed in February, 2008, at the direct request of North Ayrshire Council who sought volunteers to run a local booking system for hall users, which has enabled the hall to be booked locally by users rather than the rather cumbersome system formerly operated from North Ayrshire HQ on the mainland. Until the start of the pandemic users have been able to book via the locally- based booking secretary at short notice and, also, been able to cancel at short notice with no penalty. The hall committee frequently finances improvements to the fabric and equipment of the hall from the committee’s own funds. It is important to note that Brodick Hall has a full-time salaried hall-keeper employed by North Ayrshire Council. North Ayrshire Libraries employs the librarians and there is the mobile library serving the whole of the island. We perceive there is worry throughout the island that the council may consider closing the library for economic reasons. This would be a disastrous blow to all the residents of Arran. It is the hub of Arran with the bus service operating to serve the ferry and schools from the whole of the island as there are bus stops adjacent to Brodick Hall.
The Early Years Learning Nursery has been a tenant of the hall for many years, using the hall during school term mornings. During the 13 months of the pandemic there have been no users of the hall other than the nursery. Now, with government funding children between the ages of 3-5 are able to attend the nursery until 3pm. To enable other lets to use the hall in non-pandemic times, the nursery had been planning, with the co-operation of the council and the hall committee, to occupy approximately 50 per cent of the library, which would entail building works, adaptations for toilets, a dining area and separate entrance from the public and access to a play area. This plan would enable the hall to be free for use by other lets throughout morning, afternoon and evening, thereby increasing the use of the hall and adding to the sustainable aspect of the facilities.
We believe Brodick Public Hall is integral to the fabric of island life, and can be used for concerts, craft fairs, charity sales, yoga classes, adult education, church services, school concerts, traditional summer ceilidhs for visitors to the island, etc. The uses of the hall are too numerous to elaborate, and is likely to increase in future if the nursery can acquire its own premises. We remind you that the hall has been used as a refuge for stranded visitors, flooded out campers and as a feeding station at the time of power cuts. We know the council and BHCA would gladly grant permission to cope with these emergencies, but if the hall was run by a privately funded organisation would this be easily and quickly sanctioned?
For those who live in Brodick we cannot envisage life in the village without our village hall. It is the centre for so many activities. If the unimaginable happened that the council decided to close the hall altogether for economic reasons, we can only see this as the heart of the village being removed. We sincerely hope that this will not happen. Economies may have to be made and Brodick Hall Community Association would co-operate with the council to consider steps which could be taken on this.
We like everyone else in North Ayrshire, have to wait anxiously to hear the results of the deliberations by the elected members at their meeting in June. It is an anxious and worrying time.
Harry Davidson, chairman,
Brodick Improvements Committee.
John Sillars, chairman,
Brodick Hall Community Association.
Editor’s note: A decision on the future of Brodick Hall and library is expected in early June.
Mrs Ruth Devlin
It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of Mrs Ruth Devlin after a short illness. Ruth was very instrumental in the running of ArCaS in earlier years and we owe a great debt to her for her service. Ruth put tremendous energy and enthusiasm into our shop and for that we are forever grateful. Ruth was greatly admired and respected and we extend our condolences to her family and friends.
I would like to express my profound thanks and appreciation for all the cards, gifts and good wishes I received on my retirement as the Church of Scotland minister for the parishes of Whiting Bay and Kildonan. It has been such a privilege to have lived and worked on Arran and I have been quite overwhelmed by the kind and generous response.
With my very best wishes to everyone on the beautiful Isle of Arran.
Elizabeth R L Watson,