Hunstanton town hall repairs 'can't wait', meeting warned
Repairs to Hunstanton’s town hall, which could cost tens of thousands of pounds to complete, “can’t wait”, councillors have been warned.
A fund of up to £30,000 is to be set aside for the work, after the plan was given unanimous support during a special town council meeting on Monday.
The meeting was called even though the authority’s committees were due to sit as normal this week.
But the town’s mayor, Tony Bishopp, said the matter was too urgent to wait either for those sessions or the next scheduled full council meeting on March 24.
He told members that it may be necessary to make the building out of bounds for a period of time while the work is completed, but stressed that work undertaken in the past year had not contributed to the issues.
He added: “It’s unfortunate that these repairs can’t wait until we get a grant, but all these repairs have got to be done.”
Agenda papers published ahead of the meeting showed three main areas of concern – the building’s flooring, the ceiling above the turret entrance and the need for “immediate repairs” to the hip and turret roof.
The issues emerged after town clerk Jan Roomes narrowly escaped injury when part of a ceiling in the hall fell down in January.
Mike Ruston, chairman of the council’s finance committee, said: “We know there are loose tiles and possibly leaks.
“We need to get in there, look at that and put it right and, if that is part of the cause of the ceiling coming down, we have to put that right.
“These are all urgent repairs that can’t wait for grant funding. We need to get on and do it in the most efficient way possible.”
The meeting was also told that the condition of the floor needed to be assessed first because of damp problems identified in a survey of the building.
Mr Bishop said the surveyor had warned he “cannot guarantee” the floor would hold if an event with an audience of 200 people sitting on chairs was taking place there.
Members were asked to approve expenditure of up to a maximum of £25,000 to address the three problems.
However, the sum was increased to £30,000 after Wendy Croucher proposed adding a contingency sum to meet any additional expenses which may occur.
It was also agreed that the building should be restored in its original style, rather than using cheaper materials.
Deputy mayor Adrian Winnington said: “The town hall was built in 1896 to impress, really, the town and not to be considerate to those having to look after it in 125 years’ time. We have to try to do the best we can with what we’ve got.”
Mrs Roomes added that the council was looking into the question of whether an insurance claim could be made for the damage.