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May 11, 2010

A sign of things to come

The scenario whereby vitally important local buildings begin to fall by the wayside because of the budget deficits facing councils is perfectly illustrated by the dilemma facing Uddingston Town Hall –  a council with  few options other than to close and demolish a building it can no longer maintain now facing a community spurred into action in a bid to save their much used and loved civic centre. And not all ‘Save our Town Hall’ campaigns get the sort of windfall bonus this one did

Alastair McNeill, Hamilton Advertiser

THE campaign to save Uddingston village hall from closure stepped up a gear this week.

Earlier this year, a survey commissioned by South Lanarkshire, who run the facility, estimated that it required repairs costing £215,000.

With the authority facing a £17.5m budget deficit, the future of the Old Mill Road church hall building looked bleak.

However, a steering committee made up of representatives of organisations who use the hall and village councillor Jim McGuigan met on Monday evening to look at ways of keeping the facility open.

One way forward is taking the building out of council control, running it via a community trust, and seeking alternative sources of funding.

Councillor Jim McGuigan explained: “I believe the costs estimate given by the council to be excessive.

“I think that figure can be brought down to a more realistic level.

“We also hope local tradesmen will offer their services at a reduced rate.

“We’ve already been given £50,000 from a very generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

“I’m hopeful we can raise the remainder from other external funding sources, like the lottery for example.”

The council survey found that nails which held up roof slates had rusted and water had penetrated the building, causing dampness in the rear wall. One source had told the Advertiser that the building was “past its best” and that demolishing the hall and putting up houses on the site was a possible way forward.

The hall is used by Uddingston Pipe Band, mothers and toddlers groups and dance classes.

Uddingston Disabled Sports and Social Club, who meet in the hall on Monday evenings, have petitioned villagers and collected 1000 signatures in support of retaining the hall.

Councillor McGuigan added: “It’s a facility that the village cannot afford to lose. I have had very positive and co-operative discussions with council officials so far and I am hoping that will continue.”