Hope over hall

THE fate of the Bundalaguah-Myrtlebank Hall will be decided in the coming months, with a high possibility of the hall being saved after recommendations of a local electrician came to light at a community meeting on Thursday night.

Locals are hoping council will be swayed by the estimate of a local electrician Stewart Austin of $1500 to complete electrical work needed in stark contrast to quotes received by council of up to $45,000.

Crs Darren McCubbin, John Duncan and Emilie Davine were on hand as members of the community packed the Bundalaguah Cricket Club rooms to outline their arguments for saving the historic hall, which was built in 1954.

The hall was closed last year when safety concerns with the switchboard were identified by council.

Mr Austin said he had inspected the site at the request of the hall’s committee of management, and was surprised at the exorbitant amount of some of the quotes received.

“When Noel and Marian (Atherstone) rang me about the electrical work there, I didn’t think it was too serious,” he said.

“I had a fair idea of what the state of the wiring was; there’s not a lot in there.

“There’s about six lights and three power points.

“I went out and met them on site and they were quite distressed about it.

“I’m thinking a tight little hall, not much money in the bank, I’m thinking they might have had a quote for three or four thousand to get the power back on.

“I think what’s happened basically is the contractors involved have not been interested in the job whatsoever, and they have just gone and not had a look at all and gone oh yeah, a hall, it’s probably worth that I reckon; put it on a piece of paper and sent it off.”

Mr Austin said he estimated he could get the power back on safely at the hall for about $1500.

“I couldn’t believe that they had actually shut it down,” he said.

“It could have been tested properly to make sure it was safe; I don’t think it should have been disconnected in the first place and shut down.

“From what I could see, it was no worse than 50 per cent of the houses in Sale; in fact I would probably say it was better than about 20 per cent.”

Hall committee of management representative Noel Atherstone said the hall was worth saving, with a number of organisations using it regularly.

“During the 11 years I have been associated with this hall, we’ve never been in the red and we have had virtually no financial support from the shire,” he said.

“During that time we have converted a broken down and old hall on the inside.

“We have re-sanded the floors and polished them to beautiful condition, re-painted it completely inside, done some work on the kitchen, replaced the stove and fridge, done some work on the cisterns, new curtains and we have the lovely stage curtains donated from a hall in Sale.

“Just recently, a disability access has just been put in.

“We have got $2400 in the bank; this hasn’t been a drain on the shire.

“This is not the story of a hall in decline, or one that is a big drag, or one that is not paying its way.”

Cr McCubbin said the decision on the hall was yet to be made, with members of the community able to address councillors at a briefing next month.

He said council would support the community in working to get the hall re-opened.

“The reality is that in today’s litigious society, that as soon as council is made aware of a problem, it maybe over-reacts,” he said.

“The impact of that happened in Sale yesterday when there was cracking on the Sale Memorial Hall and suddenly the legislation is, everybody is worried as buggery about it so we have got a big fence around the memorial hall because we’re afraid the thing may fall down.

Mr McCubbin said when the Bundalaguah-Myrtlebank Hall issues first arose, the initial indications were that it would require a lot of money to save it.

He said council had also been unsure of how the community felt about the hall or whether or not there was an organising body looking after it.

“We’ve solved those problems now,” he said.

“I am quite willing to take back what Stewart has been saying to council and get a reasonable answer to this.”