Village hall closure threat after St Boswells boiler breakdown

UNLESS thousands of pounds are somehow scraped together during the next two months, dozens of events, clubs and organisations will have to cancel plans to use St Boswells village hall over the winter, writes Mark Entwistle.

The blame lies with the heavy rains at the end of the summer which flooded the basement room which houses the hall’s boiler – now at least 25 years old.

Because of problems with flood water getting into the hall in the past, the boiler room had been fitted with a pump around 1950. However, this had stopped working and by the time this breakdown was noticed, it was too late and the boiler was already damaged beyond repair.

While the hall needs a total of between £330,000 and £400,000 spent to bring it up to standard generally, the heating problem is now the priority if the local community wants the facility to remain open this winter.

To this end an additional fundraising effort has been launched, with local residents being urged to vote for cash from the Royal Bank of Scotland Community Force grant scheme in a bid to fund the new boiler .

Hall secretary Kate Warner this week told TheSouthern what failure to raise money for a new boiler in time would mean for the local community.

“If we do not raise the funds over the next month or two to repair this, the hall will have to close over the winter and this would be a disaster as the winter is the busiest time for the hall,” she said.

“A major problem would be the closure of the weekly soup club for around 40 senior citizens. This would be horrible if it could not happen as this is often the only chance many of them to get out and meet other people.

“As well as the soup club, activities such as badminton, short tennis, zumba, band rehearsals and the New Year dance all happen in the hall and these would also be affected.

“Without a replacement boiler the hall will have to be closed as the heating system would have to be drained because we couldn’t take the risk of burst pipes during the winter.

“It would also be far too cold for people to use the hall – already the local nursery and toddlers playgroup has had to switch to a room at the local Royal British Legion clubrooms after the Care Commission said the village hall was too cold for such activities.”

She added that the village hall committee is already in the middle of a general fundraising exercise for the hall, as it also needs improved facilities such as disabled access, insulation and new central heating pipework.

“There are a number of packages of improvement works that badly need done at the hall, but the replacement boiler is now top of the list if we want to keep the hall open over the winter.

“It is reckoned around £30,000 would be the cost of replacing the boiler and all the associated heating system.”

Although Scottish Borders Council has agreed an award through its community grants scheme, much more cash is needed.

A bid for up to £6,000 of financial help has now been lodged with the RBS Community Force scheme and votes can be lodged online or by telephone.

Voting lines opened on September 26 and will remain open until October 23.

Anyone interested in supporting the St Boswells boiler campaign can lodge their vote at the RBS Community Force website at http://communityforce.rbs.co.uk/project/999