Public meeting to ask if residents want to save Lands Village Hall
By Trevor Brookes - Editor
A PUBLIC meeting will be held to discuss the future of a village hall which may face closure unless a large amount of cash can be found.
Lands Village Hall has been at the centre of village life for decades but it is being used less frequently and needs substantial repair work. Just bringing up the electricity supply to scratch would cost about £12,000. Other concerns include poor heating.
A survey by Evenwood and Barony Parish Council was posted to homes around the hamlet to see what residents wanted to do.
Cllr Alison Deakin: “Eleven people really want it to stay open. Two people said they wanted it to be sold and one was sitting on the fence.”
She said those who gave a positive response were passionate about stepping forward and saving the building for the community.
Cllr Deakin added: “We should definitely have a public meeting towards the end of January.”
But parish clerk Martin Clark said: “We sent 85 questionnaires out. That means about 70 people didn’t care.”
He added that with a response rate so low, an application to funders “would not get past the first post”.
“In all honesty, it gives you nowhere to go,” Mr Clark said. “You can have 11 people on an association but you won’t have any money.”
The hall was built in the 1880s as an infant school. In 1913 it was made into a men’s institute and reading room. In 1955 it became the village hall. Parish chairwoman Cllr Barbara Nicholson said the building is currently run as a charity but there are now just two members of the committee.
She said they approached Evenwood and Barony Parish Council earlier this year to see if councillors could help. Insurance was arranged by the parish council so at least people could still use the centre if they wanted, councillors were told.
“We have now got to a point where we need to ask if they want to use it or lose it,” Cllr Nicholson said.
Councillors agreed to hold a public meeting in late January or early February with a date to be confirmed.
“Everybody will be welcome to take part in a discussion on whether they want to save their village hall,” added Cllr Nicholson.
Cllr Rachel Spraggon said: “We need to put the cards on the table. Everybody needs to know before they get involved how much they are taking on. They need to know how much it will cost. When they see the bigger picture, they might walk away.”
Cllr Mary Prince said fewer young people use village halls these days. Once it was a popular venue for groups like young farmers and the cricket club for get-togethers, the meeting heard.
“Younger people are just not interested any more,” she added.