Over 70 people, including the three Turriff Councillors Sandy Duncan, Alisan Norrie & Anne Robinson attended the public meeting at Turriff Academy to discuss the future of the Turriff Municipal Hall tonight.
The objective of the meeting, organised by Turriff Community Council, was to gauge the interest of the local people in keeping the hall as an asset for the community. The title to the building is currently held by Aberdeenshire Council under the Common Good.
Common Good is the name given to all property inherited by councils from the former Scottish burghs that ceased to exist after the town councils were wound up 1975.
Aberdeenshire Council hold the title to the Municipal Hall on behalf of the residents of Turriff and under the terms of Common Good would need to transfer the title back to an organisation that wants to run the building for the good of the community. If no group or organisation comes forward that is willing or able to run the hall for the good of the community then Aberdeenshire Council have to apply to the courts to have the building taken out of the Common Good scheme to enable them to dispose of it commercially.
Turriff Municipal Hall is a category C listed building having been listed by Historic Scotland in 1982 and is described as
W.L. Duncan 1908. Edwardian Renaissance. Single-storey red ashlar, R-doric column doorpiece with pediment between advanced wings with channelled angles, pediment, gables and tripartite windows with centre lights in R-doric acdicules with segmental pediments.
Some preliminary plans for the hall have been drawn up by architect Annie Kenyon to give an idea of how the hall could be remodelled for better use by the community and were on display at the meeting.
The hall is currently set out as five small rooms and one larger room which was previously used as the council chamber, the plans showed how these could be remodelled to create a larger more flexible space.
John Smith, Treasurer of the Community Council, gave the meeting an overview of how the building could be used by the community if it were to be transferred to an organisation to run it for the Turriff Community saying
The hall won’t solve all the problems in Turriff and is not in competition with other venues, but it is an asset to the community and could be used for
- local groups which currently don’t have their own venue
- Councillors, MP & MSP Surgeries
- Turriff & District Community Council meetings
- Tourist information centre
- Benefits advice centre
amongst other things.
A number of questions from members of the public at the meeting were asked including
- Are there any grants or funding available to do the work required on the hall? – Possibly under the village halls scheme, LEADER funding, Lottery grants or the Scottish Government. Getting funding will be difficult but not impossible.
- Could the hall be sold off if it becomes a millstone? – It is unlikely that the hall will be handed over to any organisation without it having a clear plan for the future of the hall along with a management structure. the council would probably put some clause in the transfer to cover any future sale of the hall.
- How big is the hall? – Turriff Municipal Hall isn’t massive, it isn’t as big as the Baden Powell Centre.
- Who is going to look after the running of the building? – The steering committee would need to set up a formal company or organisation that would be responsible for the running of the hall.
- Has anyone projected how much all the repairs & renovations will cost? – No that is a job for the steering committee, if it is agreed tonight that the community want us to take this forward.
- What timescales are we looking at? – If we get enough people together to start the steering committee, then it could be a minimum of 18 months before we see anything, but more likely to be 2 or 3 years.
- What is the minimum state of the building if we take it on from the council? – Under the Community Asset Transfer it needs to be handed over in a reasonable state of repair.
- Could the community organisation not rent the hall while they are negotiating with the council? – That would be for the steering committee to discuss.
The meeting was asked for a show of hands on whether the community council should set up a steering committee based on the information presented to the meeting. The public voted in favour of creating the steering committee and people were asked to leave their contact details if they wanted to be part of the steering committee.
If you were not able to attend the meeting but would like to be part of the steering committee then please contact a member of the Community Council to express your interest.