Council investigate return of dry rot to Victoria Hall


THE company who failed to cure a dry rot outbreak in the Victoria Hall has now gone bust.

Scottish Borders Council discovered the specialised firm it hired was no longer in business after the devastating fungi returned to the Scott’s Place facility this month.

Investigations are now under way to discover the extent of the problem, which forced Selkirk Community Council to hold its October meeting on Monday in the main hall rather than the committee room.

And questions have been raised as to how the rot is back less than two years after the initial bout was cleared, as well as who will pay for the latest works, which could run into thousands of pounds.

Current Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar explained: “The problem has stemmed from a cracked downpipe that runs through the building.

“The company responsible for the initial works has since gone bust, but the council is investigating whether it had an insurance bond which means they can make a claim to cover the costs. As far as I am concerned that is the normal and correct procedure.”

Asked if there was a chance the defunct firm did not have an insurance bond, Mr Edgar replied: “I do not know, there could be a chance of that.

“You need an insurance bond to meet certain standards, so I don’t think the council would employ a firm that was not covered.

“The problem with dry rot is that it is very voracious and you have to keep moving until you find the end of it to make sure it is nowhere else.

“This can take some time, but I am hopeful the work can be done before Christmas, when the hall is well used for concerts and other events.”

However, the scenario has left former Selkirkshire councillor Kenneth Gunn demanding answers.

He said: “Just a few months after a major overhaul and a new roof being installed at Selkirk’s Victoria Hall, one of the best public auditoria in the Scottish Borders, a new problem, or rather an old one, has again raised its head.

“With a brand new decoration programme having been completed after the roof replacement, scaffolding and building works are back once again in the foyer and in the anteroom used for important committee meetings, including Selkirk Common Riding Trust and the Selkirk Community Council monthly meetings.

“With hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on the hall before a small group based in the town insisted that this public asset be transferred to the Selkirk Common Good, the question now is who will pay for the recurring dry rot which is again in the hall?

“And whose head will roll at Scottish Borders Council for this recurring problem after the hall was given a clean bill of health less than two years ago?”

“This is an important building, not just for Selkirk but also as a Borders venue for arts groups, theatre companies, dances and wedding receptions.

“Any hire days lost as a result of negligence must be charged to someone – but to whom?”

A spokesman for SBC said all bookings for the Victoria Halls would be honoured.

The spokesman added: “I can confirm the Victoria Hall has been affected by some dry rot.

“Our main priority at the moment is to address this, and we have experts working to rectify the issue.”