Kirkcolm Public Hall
Tuesday 27th March, 7.00pm
Kirkcolm Village Hall – A Community Response
The village Hall situated on the corner of Church Road and Main Street is at the heart of both the village and the parish and also that of the community of Kirkcolm.
Built in the 1930s the hall has been an integral part of the lives of generations of Kirkcolm folk so much so that it is scarcely even noticed and is most certainly taken for granted.
Although not actually listed as such, the hall itself is of a singularly attractive art deco design and is certainly among the very best of the village halls in the former county of Wigtown. It boasts a curtained stage with rear access and side entries; a gallery with disabled lift access, a spacious hall area itself with outstandingly good acoustics. It is equipped with a large pull down screen and digital projection devices and could stage both film shows and presentations. There are well appointed gents, ladies and disabled facilities which currently function as public toilets. There is a very adequate kitchen area and an attractive, well furnished and comfortable meeting room, the supper room, upstairs. It has good access and is adjacent to a large public parking area as well as to the village shop and the Blue Peter public house. Although some modernisation such as double or secondary glazing and better insulation would be desirable, as would the sorting of the guttering and paintwork, the fabric of the building, including the roof and the sash and case windows, is in pretty good condition.
The Hall will permanently close on March 31st 2019 as a result of a Council decision to remove funding from 2019.
- The Community is in an excellent position to prevent this.
- Under the Dumfries and Galloway Council asset transfer scheme the community could take over the title and the running and future development of the Hall and the adjacent car park.
- Currently the Hall runs with and annual deficit of £6-£8K. It is now little used and is locked much of the time.
- Fortuitously the Community Council has recently entered into a 25 year contractual agreement with Scottish Power (the proprietors of Glen App Wind farm) which will result in an annual guaranteed income of £27.5K. In addition the CC has an income from the North Rhins wind farm of around £5K annually (variable) and £500 annually from the Local Authority. Other funding sources are currently being actively perused by the CC and are likely to come on stream in the future.
The above £32.5K is ‘Community Benefit’ funding – for the express and sole purpose of funding, fostering and encouraging community activity and engagement.
What possible better use could be made of part of that funding than to take over and organise the hall as an open community centre for those who live in the Village and wider parish?
With reasonable funding the Hall could be open all of the time. Lunch clubs, television lounges, internet access, smoking lounges (without of course smoking!), pool, table tennis or even snooker tables and play areas could be provided – the list is only limited by our own imagination. A variety of services could use our hall including e.g. hairdressers, chiropodists, health visitors, counselling services etc. Instead of people sitting alone at home there could be an open warm comfortable and welcoming facility for old and young alike to come and spend time with their friends. Existing clubs and groups would be fostered and encouraged. Far from closing, the hall now has the very real prospect of going through a full renaissance with the prospect of emerging better, stronger and more secure and certainly more used that it has been for a very long time.
The central proposal in the paper is for a Hall Management Group to be established and for the Community Council to make available a guaranteed annual sum from the community benefit fund for the project.
With funding a hall manager could be appointed whose function would be to manage both building related aspects of the project as well as the community aspects. The hall manager would be directly employed and answerable to the Hall Management Group. The future of both the Hall itself and that of the wider community could be greatly improved if the correct person was in place with the manager and management group working in partnership with the community.
In addition to the Hall the adjacent car Park could be included in the asset transfer and be developed in any way which is seen appropriate by the Committee. My own view is a large part ought to be retained as a car park however I also see scope for other ventures, such as a play park, in what is a large area in the centre of the village.
This paper does not include a business proposal. Letting figures have been examined and are somewhat disappointing and is likely income from this source could increased. Building related, administrative and staff related costs have also been looked at – it is likely these could be reduced. In short with imagination it is almost certainly the case the annual deficit could be reduced. In spite of this statement a guarantee secured from the Community Council Community for benefit funding is the key to the success of this project and the transformation of the Hall into an active and open community centre for Kirkcolm really depends on that.
PS. Several years ago we did come together as an independent community group and were not only able to work with Scottish Power to upgrade all of the grid infrastructure in the surrounding area giving us secure power ever since but we also secured a substantial one-off payment for every household in the whole of the parish – an example of what can be achieved when we work together – we need to do this again!
At the time of writing this paper Kirkcolm Community Council did not have a position on the Hall closure. My own feeling is that this meeting will be our only chance to save the hall and that unless the meeting is well supported and makes a clear decision we will lose our hall and not only all of the activities that currently take place there but a massive opportunity to improve things for all sectors of the community. For that reason I urge you to attend the meeting. If you do not, effectively you are saying you don’t care and hope others will do it for you.
We are in a unique set of circumstances. We have the money (£32.5K annual income), the D&G policy on asset transfer is available but could change any time, and we have the plans to make it all work – it is surely a ‘no brainer’ – all we need is the community to come together.
If we don’t take action when we have the means how will we be able to justify our inaction to those who follow!?