Hunstanton town hall ‘at risk of falling’ unless £100k repairs are made, meeting told

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Urgent action is needed to save Hunstanton’s town hall from potential collapse, community leaders have been warned.

Town councillors agreed to spend at least £13,000 on surveying and scaffolding for the building during an emergency meeting at the resort’s community centre on Thursday evening.

But it is feared the final cost of repairing the hall could run into tens of thousands of pounds.

The meeting was told that the front of the building had been damaged at around the same time that piledriving had been taking place on the site of a new McCarthy and Stone retirement flats complex, which opened last month.

Other buildings in the area were also damaged at around the same time.

Some temporary scaffolding is already in place at the front of the town hall, facing the Green, and the council chamber itself has not been used for several months.

And Richard Bird told the meeting that a much more substantial scaffold, costing £8,000 to hire for a 10 week period and a further £400 a week after that, was needed to make the building safe.

He said the council had also been advised that the total cost of fixing the building could be at least £100,000.

And he urged his colleagues to act quickly to begin the work that is needed and make decisions on how facilities like the tourist information centre would be affected.

He said: “We are responsible. We really can’t take any chances. We are so vulnerable as a council.”

Wendy Croucher added: “We’re in a situation where we have a dangerous building that is in danger of falling.”

She called for an executive committee to be set up and given the power to oversee the project on the council’s behalf.

She said: “We have got to shorten this process somehow.”

But other members disagreed, arguing that the scale of the programme meant it had to be debated and voted upon by all of the council’s members.

Tony Bishopp said: “We’re talking in excess of £100,000 possibly. It’s too much money.”

Deputy mayor Adrian Winnington formally proposed accepting the costs incurred so far, saying: “We have got to spend it.”

But Andrew Murray also raised concerns about cracks on the other side of the building and said a cherrypicker should be hired to look round the whole site, though members rejected the idea.

Members were told the costs would be met from a combination of the authority’s reserves, public works loans and grant funding applications.

There were also calls for formal complaints to be lodged against the council’s insurer, Zurich over their handling of the situation.

Mr Bird said the company had consistently failed to say what support they would provide to the authority to finance the repairs.

He said both he and council staff had been repeatedly frustrated by the firm’s behaviour over the issue

He added: “This council may consider the Insurance Ombudsman and future dealings with this company.”