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THE FIRST STEPS have been taken in a possible takeover of the Elgin Town Hall by the local community with almost 100 turning out at a meeting this week.
Local group Lantern of the North made the first moves on securing a community-led future after learning that Moray Council were considering closing the venue if nobody came forward to take it over.
The meeting in a crowded room at the Inkwell in Elgin heard Lantern of the North director Barry Jarvis explain that their plan would be to have a wide variety of events in the Town Hall, saying: “It is a community building so it would only be right that as many people as possible have a say in how it is run.”
Mr Jarvis added: “It made sense for us to get the ball rolling and we have been searching for a venue for a while now, but we did not want to take over the whole thing on our own.”
Ahead of the meeting Mr Jarvis and fellow director Mark Conti told listeners on the Moray Newsbeat weekly news magazine on MCNR that it was important as many individuals and groups as possible turned out at the meeting.
In the event the level of interest was such that there was insufficient room in the venue to seat everyone. Present was one of the strongest supporters for the project, Heldon & Laich councillor John Cowe, who said that Moray Council could easily be a ‘customer’ for the new owners.
He explained: “The council uses the building at the moment and I am sure that we could be one of the biggest customers – and would have to pay rent to use the building.”
Figures produced at the meeting indicated that the Town Hall has been losing as much as £50,000 a year at present. However, it also emerged that the building lay empty for much of the year, in particular at weekends.
It was agreed that a steering group would be formed led by Lantern of the North and would take a detailed look at the possible future for the building.