£18,000 bill to cure hall’s dry rot

THE latest outbreak of dry rot in Selkirk’s Victoria Halls is costing £18,000 to fix, Scottish Borders Council (SBC) has revealed.

Work is still ongoing to eradicate the devastating fungi, despite hopes it would be finished by Christmas.

But an SBC spokesperson explained it was for good reason: “To ensure minimal disruption for the hall users, the contractor has worked around various lets in the hall. This obviously has taken longer than if the contractor had a ‘clear run’ with the works.

“Dry rot was found in the window frame in the corridor outside the ground floor committee room. This meant the committee room, staircase and lesser hall were checked for dry rot – and treated as necessary. The last spore in the lesser hall was in the wall adjacent to the balcony, and an area in the balcony is being checked.

“With dry-rot works you need to examine one metre past the last spore, and this is what is happening at the moment.

“Work is therefore still ongoing. Decoration still needs to be carried out.”

The council reassured people that the hall would remain open: “Every effort has been made to make sure there is minimal disruption to hall users, and the hall has not closed as such.

“Works have taken place to suit hall users. We will need to liaise with the]hall keeper to arrange suitable times for redecoration to take place, again to cause minimal disruption to hall user.”

The dry rot reappeared in the Victoria Halls after apparently being destroyed two years ago by a specialist company which has since gone bust. Questions were asked at the time how the dry rot had come back so soon, and how, if at all, SBC could recover some of its money from the defunct firm or its insurance.

However, the spokesperson confirmed: “The dry rot did not ‘come back’: this is a separate outbreak so any original insurance may not be valid. SBC’s investigation is ongoing.” The cost is being borne by SBC’s repairs and maintenance budget.