Labour councillors representing the New Cheltenham area of Kingswood are hopeful that their efforts to find funds to refurbish a run-down hall are about to bear fruit.
The South Gloucestershire Council-owned New Cheltenham Hall is in a very poor condition after many years of neglect. The hall, which is situated at the junction of New Cheltenham Road and Syston Way, is currently only used during the day on weekdays, when it hosts the Southey pre-school group. This highly-valued voluntary group rents the hall from the council and there are no other tenants.
Local councillor Bill Bowrey (Labour, Kings Chase) explained:
“The poor condition of the hall is obvious, so as local councillors we decided to apply some pressure within the council. As a result the council‘s property services team surveyed the hall. They found it to be structurally sound, but identified a series of repairs needed to bring it up to a good standard which totals £67,000. We intend to use some of the community projects budget delegated to us and have also been lobbying for central funds in order to complete the repairs. We have recently received informal indications that we will be successful and get the money we need from the council’s maintenance and community buildings budgets.”
As well as dealing with the fabric of the building, the councillors have been working with local people to put the hall on a long-term footing as an asset for the whole community. They are busy working on a Business Plan, supported by the council’s community projects manager, which would see the hall transferred to the care of a team of local Trustees. Their aim is to maximise the hall’s use, whilst providing a better environment for the pre-school group.
Fellow Councillor Pat Apps (Labour, Kings Chase) added:
“Our aim is to see the hall transformed into a high-quality community asset that will be widely used and valued. A number of local people have shown an interest in becoming trustees, and the local parish churches are keen to support us. We plan to issue 3,000 leaflets to local homes next month encouraging residents to get behind our plans for the hall. We believe that New Cheltenham deserves to have a vibrant and successful community building and that by working together we can achieve this.”
Note – The “community projects budget” mentioned by Cllr Bowrey is the balance of Housing Revenue (rent) money left over when the council sold its stock to Merlin Housing Society. This was allocated to councillors to spend on local projects.
21st February 2012