Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Town Hall plans

I've had a good look at the refurbishment plans for Stornoway Town Hall, and have taken note of the opposition to the plans. I can understand that people don't like change - it's not always for the best. However, I have to say that I find the opposition to the refurbishment plans, with all due respect, ill informed. As I understand it, the current stage will be replaced by an exhibition area. Access to the groundfloor of the Town Hall is to be given from the square to the west of the Town Hall (if anyone can remind me of the name of that square, which has a fountain in a rock in it, I'd be much obliged). Obviously, the entrance from Cromwell Street will be kept. The floorspace will be retained. Upstairs, the seating is to be removed, but the balustrade will be retained and turned into a functional area. Disabled access lifts are to be installed (high time). Upstairs, offices will actually be merged into more functional areas.

Personally, I am not opposed to the refurbishment plans. I understand and respect the wish of people to retain the stage in the Town Hall, which has been the focal point for many of the island's key historic moments. However, its current functionality is reduced from what it was 5 years ago. The An Lanntair cultural centre has taken over as the main venue for cultural events, and the Town Hall is being used on only a handful of occasions each year. I cannot remember whether a retractable stage is on the cards to take the place of the current fixed one (maybe wishful thinking).

I realise that, with 1200 people signed up to the Facebook group, opposing the refurbishment, including well-known names like Phil Cunningham, I'm going to be in the firing line. But I'm allowed my opinion, and have not shied away from controversy before.

Anyone wishing to register their opinion (for or against) can do so on the Council's website. There is no timelimit on objections.

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