The public hall built with money contributed by the people of Lanark as a tribute to their World War One dead is now becoming too expensive for Lanarkians to use.
So claimed the chairman of the Royal Burgh of Lanark Community Council Frank Gunning who describes the cost of renting the Memorial Hall now as “ludicrous”.
He gave vent to his feelings at the latest meeting of the council which was told that it was estimated it cost over £900 to use the hall for just a few hours to hold its annual Burgess ‘good citizen’ award ceremony in.
He commented: “These are ridiculous charges. The cost of using the Memorial Hall now is ludicrous. It is over £900 and all they are giving us, apart from the venue, is a sound engineer and a couple of staff members.”
He proposed that the community council now move the ceremony to an alternative, cheaper venue, one council member claiming that the commercial hotels in the area would charge less and provide more facilities, such as a full meal, for the same price as just use of the Memorial Hall “plus some nibbles on the tables”.
The community council is not the first Lanark body to object to the Memorial Hall pricing policy in recent years, especially since it reopened four years ago after a lengthy £5.3m refurbishment.
The hall was originally built, largely with public subscriptions, in 1926 with the twin roles of acting as the town’s main public events and entertainment venue and as the Royal Burgh’s official war memorial.
The hall’s foyer still contains plaques containing the names of Lanark’s war dead, including the 232 local men who fell in World War One.
For most of its history, the hall was under the management of the succession of local authorities running Lanark. Several years ago, it became the responsibility of South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture, an ‘arms-length’ body set up by South Lanarkshire Council.
The general manager of South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture, Gerry Campbell, said: “The hire charges for the Memorial Hall were set and approved when the venue opened and are monitored and reviewed annually as is the case for all South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture managed venues.
“Attendances at the Memorial Hall, by the community and other groups has exceeded all of the initial predictions and SLLC are delighted with the ongoing level of support from the community.”