Up in arms over Bundalaguah hall

UP in arms about the closure of Bundalaguah-Myrtlebank Hall, members of the Country Women’s Association Bundalaguah branch are preparing a petition to put to the Wellington Shire Council.

The group has also established a ‘Support the Bundalaguah-Myrtlebank Hall’ Facebook page which is slowly gaining support.

The hall, which has been home to the Bundalaguah CWA for 59 years, was closed in July last year after rats gnawed on the wiring in the building’s switchboard, rendering it unsafe for community use.

Since the hall’s closure the group of 30 women has been using temporary accommodation, waiting for the council to come to a decision.

Members of the Bundalaguah CWA believe the shire want to close the hall permanently, instead of repairing the facility, to avoid further maintenance costs.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Bundalaguah CWA member Val Ellis said, “The Wellington Shire, in their wisdom, has put the long term future of the hall under threat of demolition, all for the sake of some repairs.

“While the shire has many calls on its finances, surely there would be room in the new budget for the small amount of funding required to make the necessary repairs, thereby allowing the hall to open again and continue to function,” she added.

“We as a group miss being able to use the hall and urge the shire to look favourably on funding the repairs and allow the hall to be open for use again,” Mrs Ellis said.

A council spokeswoman said the hall would need to be rewired and fitted with a new mains, earthing, switchboard and meter box if it was going to be considered safe for use.

“While electrical issues are the most immediate need, as part of the investigations into the facility, other issues were identified that require work for insurance purposes,” she said.

“These include fencing an open drain, repairing leaks in the roof, installation of emergency lighting and emergency exit doors, sanitary repairs to the toilets and a number of other items.”

The spokeswoman said the repair estimates were costly, and were not budgeted for by council.

She added the Bundalaguah-Myrtlebank Hall was just one of 48 community halls in the shire, and one of a significant number of community facilities funded by council, including kindergartens, recreation reserves, neighbourhood houses and senior citizen centres.

“Council’s current understanding is that all users of the hall travel there by car and that a number of viable alternatives exist within eight kilometres of the facility, including the Bundalaguah Cricket Club, the Maffra Memorial Hall, and a large number of halls and venues across Maffra and Sale,” the spokeswoman said.

“The Bundalaguah School has extended an invitation to members of the Bundalaguah CWA to make use of their community room for meetings as an alternative venue,” she added.

It is the expectation of council that community halls are managed by volunteer Committees of Management, with three year Licence and Service Agreements in place, identifying the management responsibilities, maintenance schedules and to provide insurance for the committee and hall users.

“While asked many times to do so, users of the Bundalaguah Hall have not formed an incorporated Committee of Management, leaving the hall itself without a maintenance schedule, licence, user agreements or insurance for more than a decade,” the spokeswoman said.

The Bundalaguah Hall Committee incorporated as a formal Committee of Management in August last year.

Petitions to save the Bunalaguah-Myrtlebank Hall are at:

Sale Trophy House, Raymond St, Sale;

Jen’s Flowers, MacArthur St, Sale;

Maffra Newsagents, Maffra,

Hawkins Furniture Store, Maffra.

The Support the Bundalaguah-Myrtlebank Hall Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/gippslandtimes#!/BundalaguahMyrtlebankHall.