Beccles Lido team bids to save public hall

THE group responsible for reopening Beccles Lido is in advanced negotiations with Waveney District Council to take on the town's public hall.

The district council says that while it has invested significantly in the hall over the past decade, the building requires further structural and general refurbishment works and feels it can no longer commit to running it beyond the immediate future.

Shaun Crowley, director of Beccles Lido Limited, said: 'When we took on the swimming pool it was because we did not want to see a precious community asset lost forever.

'So when we learned earlier this year that the council wanted to dispose of the public hall and there was a chance it could be lost to property development, we decided to act.

'While it is early days, we have already proved with the lido that under community control and with strong community support, assets such as these can survive as vibrant and successful businesses.

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'We believe that Beccles needs and wants a more modern public hall with a broader range of shows, exhibitions and events, combined with greater access for use by the general public.'

District councillor Graham Elliott, who has been a big supporter of the lido project, said: 'I felt passionately that the swimming pool should be saved and it is fantastic to see it being used by so many people this year.

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'I made saving the public hall a central part of my election campaign and I am delighted to have helped Beccles Lido Limited put together a team that can take on this valuable public asset.'

Mr Crowley added: 'It is early days and we should stress that our number one priority remains the lido, and safeguarding its success and long-term viability with the funds that we have already raised.

'However, we also believe that the long-term interests of the community can be even better served by adding the public hall, and creating a broader-based business plan for leisure facilities that can be enjoyed by the people of Beccles and beyond.

'To do so it was important that there should be a new group of people to spearhead the campaign for the public hall and to help with its acquisition and operation, so we are delighted to welcome on board Terry Dentith and John Cushing.'

Mr Dentith has been involved in a number of events and productions at the public hall and Mr Cushing has been an active member of Beccles-based Waveney Light Opera Group for more than 25 years.

Fundraising has started and �1,000 has already been pledged, but more funds are required, initially to carry out the surveys needed and set up the governance structure to run the public hall.

Waveney District Council's deputy leader Stephen Ardley said: 'Ideally we are looking at a plan that will see Beccles Public Hall handed over at the end of this year or by March 2012, subject to satisfactory negotiations.

'We are working closely with Beccles Lido Limited to provide them with all of the information needed to put together a business case and we expect that we will be taking the report to be reviewed by the Scrutiny Committee in October or November this year.'

Fundraising events and a public meeting will be announced shortly. To offer help or make a donation contact Mr Dentith at or call him on 01502 716590.

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