Fraserburgh councillors have welcomed the commitment made by Aberdeenshire Council’s Business Services Committee to the town’s Dalrymple Hall.
The local authority has agreed to retain Dalrymple Hall and to invest more than £1m in the building to bring it up to scratch. The hall, as well as being Fraserburgh's town hall, is one of Aberdeenshire's best known art centres.
Commenting on the news, Cllr Charles Buchan said: "We are delighted that the Council has agreed to retain the Dalrymple Hall and that the need for investment in the building has been identified.
“We are aware that the building has been neglected by the previous Tory, Independent, and LibDem administrations, and have asked for badly-needed repairs and enhancements to the fabric of the building, to improve the auditorium, interior decoration, and accessibility. We hope that hall users will engage with us to make sure their views are heard. These improvements could greatly enhance our provision for arts and culture.
“Along with the other multi-million pounds investments in the town in the last two years, and the proposals for Fraserburgh in the 2017 local SNP manifesto, this shows that we have worked hard for the interests of the people of Fraserburgh, and should go a long way to satisfy the ambitions of our young people, and the arts community, and will enhance our high reputation for the arts.”
Cllr Charles Buchan, as vice-chair of the Education Committee, has successfully worked for the past two years to bring the northern hub of the world-famous Royal Conservatoire to Fraserburgh, and arrangements are being made to work with local schools, and groups to benefit our youth. Cllr Brian Topping, as chair of the Fraserburgh Regeneration Group is working to use arts involvement as a regeneration vehicle for Fraserburgh and the villages."
Councillor Ian Tait has also welcomed the news, stating: "I have been pointing out to council that the Dalrymple Hall needs a major refurbish and re-design to make it best fit for purpose as an Arts and Crafts Centre. I am therefore delighted that the council has agreed with me and decided to overhaul the building.
"I will be pressing the case that instead of just looking at the present upstairs layout, we should be consulting with the groups using the facility and see if a re-design is needed and would be beneficial.
"And, while these new works are going to be done, the council must look to install the most up to date electrical and mechanical devices to make a first class entertainment venue," he said.
Cllr Tait added that he also had another plan in mind for the downstairs part of the hall.
"At present the downstairs premises which are owned by the council are leased out but are being advertised for sub-let. If that lease were to be dissolved and the downstairs premises taken back by the council, then the whole building could be made available for community use including all the groups there at present and any others.
"The council brought the downstairs premises into excellent condition and would not need anything spent on them. At present the upstairs and downstairs premises are separate although they were originally all one building."
He is now calling on the council to consult with the user groups to get their views on how the upstairs premises layout could be improved and get back the lease of the downstairs premises to bring it into community use.
He added: "Not only would the user groups get the benefit of the extra space but we could look to start more activities for the whole community including young people and provide good wholesome activities for them. I am hopeful that external funding could be found bearing in mind the building is C-listed."