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Hall scheme gets backing of Lyme councillors
A SCHEME, which could see a new community building on the Woodmead Halls site, has been backed by Lyme Regis town councillors.
Members of the strategy and policy committee heeded a plea from the halls’ chairman Stan Williams that a new hall was desperately needed to ensure the facility’s future and voted by six to three to support the idea in principle.
Mr Williams said that to make the halls financially sustainable they needed to generate more income, while providing facilities for all Lyme organisations.
“At the moment we are overloaded, particularly in the evening sessions, by organisations such as the bingo club, the Town Band, short mat bowls, sequence dance club and so on as weekly bookings and into this we have to fit blood donor sessions, public meetings and other one-offs.
“This limits the use for local organisations and local charities to hold larger money-making events to help their funds.”
Councillors heard that the new hall, which would be built on the area of the elevated platform to the side of the current kitchens, would mean the loss of eight car parking spaces generating £4,200 a year in the Woodmead car park.
A proposal from the Raglan Housing Association to develop part of the site for social housing is also set to be put forward.
Committee chairman Coun Mark Gage praised the halls’ committee work in creating the current facility, but warned members that any council backing of the plan would need to be considered very carefully.
“If we give an in principle agreement, that needs to be a full commitment, because the halls’ committee will then start investing real money in planning fees and consultations.”
Coun Anita Williams said that the halls’ busy calendar of regular bookings meant that it was impossible to schedule special events.
“And it is the events that bring the money in,” she pointed out.
But Coun Owen Lovell said he would need convincing that there was sufficient need for a new hall.
“I would certainly want to see a booking summary showing how the halls are used 24/7 and the demand that would be coming if we did put another hall in.”
Coun Lorna Jenkin said she believed there would be huge difficulty raising the money for the build in the current climate.
“I think this may be dead in the water,” she said.
Coun Daryl Turner said that if a new hall meant increased use of the car park, then it might increase revenue for the council.
“By creating more use of parking spaces in the close season, a more productive Woodmead Halls could end up making more money,” he pointed out.
With the blessing of the council secured, the Halls’ management committee will now prepare more detailed plans.