The permanent re-opening of the Loreburn Hall took a major step forward this week when councillors voted in favour of the council transferring the Hall to a Community Trust.
The decision was made at a meeting of the Council’s Dumfries Common Good Fund Committee last night (16 September), where councillors also voted in favour of renting the office space in the hall to Girl-guiding Dumfriesshire.
At its meeting on 3 September 2013, the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee gave its commitment to provide access to leisure facilities for the public when DG One closes for remedial works from June 2014, including a temporary fitness suite facilities would be provided at Loreburn Hall. However, although the swimming pool will be closed for 17 months, the gym area will only be unavailable or around five months and whether the Loreburn Hall remains open after this period will depend on the running of the hall being taken over by the local community.
Nith Ward Councillor Colin Smyth said, “There has been a lot talk about the hall being transferred to a Trust but this speculation was always premature. The Loreburn Hall is held as part of the Common Good Fund, so until councillors actually voted in favour of releasing the hall to a Trust, no decisions had been made. This decision is therefore a historic step forward in finding a long term plan for the hall.”
“The proposal from the council to use it as a gym is only for five months. Ideally, I’d liked to have seen the council keeping the hall open permanently and running it themselves but it is clear they won’t do this. Therefore the only alternative was to transfer it to a Trust. The council have agreed to provide support to help set up the Trust but for this to work local people need to come forward. The council also agreed earlier in the month to put a lot of money into the building but the community now have to step up to the mark and get behind proposals for a Trust. This is a once in a lifetime chance to see the historic hall re-opened on a permanent basis and if we don’t take it then I have no doubt we will lose the Loreburn Hall once and for all, as it will simply be left to deteriorate beyond repair”.
Fellow Nith Ward Councillor John Martin added, “There are plenty of community groups who want to use the Loreburn Hall so hopefully they will come forward and become part of any proposed Trust. A lot of people are angry that the Loreburn hall has simply been left to deteriorate because there is a strong affinity towards the hall from the community. DGOne can’t cater for certain events and sometimes people haven’t been able to book the hall in DGOne because it is so busy. The Loreburn Hall could really help fill that gap and bring more events into Dumfries Town Centre”.