Matthews Hall: project goes on despite failure

PUBLISHED: 01:01 24 January 2008 | UPDATED: 08:47 10 June 2010

THE £350,000 refurbishment of Matthews Hall will not be paid for by the National Lottery - after the management committee's bid was turned down. Fighting for a pot of £50 million, they competed with other bids totalling £600 million - but despite their di

THE £350,000 refurbishment of Matthews Hall will not be paid for by the National Lottery - after the management committee's bid was turned down.Fighting for a pot of £50 million, they competed with other bids totalling £600 million - but despite their disappointment they elected to continue with the project by raising the money in the community.The original project included new lifts, ramps for disabled access, a kitchen/bar, new toilets, better lighting, energy saving insulation, an extension to the police office and a new meeting room. This would have cost £350,000 and, with funding from the City Council, the Community Council of Devon and several other bodies of £50,000, the £250,000 lottery bid would have meant £50,000 would have needed to be raised in the community.Steve Preston, chairman of the management committee, said: "We had two alternatives: either leave the hall as it is or raise the money in the community to carry out all or some of the refurbishment."Leaving the hall as it is presents many problems. We have spent a considerable amount of money, more than £8,000, time and energy in getting the project to its current stage."Although they have reserves of £12,000, this must be spent on disabled access, redecoration of the hall in accordance with the lease, the refurbishment of two toilets and energy saving measures. "All this would deplete our reserves," said Steve. "And we would be faced with operating at little more than break-even with the prospect of our hall becoming more obsolete over time, resulting in private hirers ceasing to use it altogether."We could trim the project by cutting out the very expensive lifts and wheelchair access to the council chamber and the stage. This would save £80,000 and we would be left with raising £220,000 in the community."The Steering Group will investigate whether extra savings can be made - and will approach grant-making bodies, put on fundraising events and ask for contributions from residents and businesses.Steve added they urgently needed volunteers with ideas and, if you can help, contact deputy chairman Maggie Butt on: (01392) 873050.Architect's plans can be viewed at the library, on the Matthews Hall notice board and on the Topsham website:www.topsham.org.

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