Scottish Hall trustees voice frustration

EVAN HARDING
Last updated 05:00 31/08/2011

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Trustees of the Scottish Hall are frustrated the Invercargill City Council still hasn't handed over its ownership four years after the community saved the historically significant building from demolition.

Trustee Malcolm McKenzie expressed those frustrations at a full council meeting yesterday.

"Please help us to get this hall in use ... we are totally frustrated with the lack of positive movement," he told city councillors.

In 2007 the council decided to demolish the Scottish Hall, claiming it needed $1 million in renovations, but thousands of people signed a petition opposing its closure.

An agreement was subsequently reached in early 2008 that the council would transfer the hall's ownership to the Scottish Hall Community Trust, which was set up as a legal entity and charitable trust, Mr McKenzie said.

"Since then we have had three years mainly involved with legal arguments between the city council solicitors and the Crown Law office.

It had been a "dreadfully slow" process and the transfer shouldn't be that difficult.

"We want to take over the hall and put it to good use," he said.

The hall had historic significance and it was built of concrete, meaning it would stand an earthquake better than many buildings in the city, Mr McKenzie said.

He said many groups had wanted to book the Esk St Scottish Hall in the first year after the trust was formed, adding inquiries were still being made, but the trust couldn't accept the bookings because it didn't yet have ownership.

The hall, which will be opened for the Scotland rugby team's visit to Invercargill during the World Cup, has deteriorated while it has been closed for the past three years, he said.

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