File photo: Newbridge Town Hall
A Newbridge councillor is calling for reduced fees for groups who can’t afford to pay the proposed €40 hourly fee for Newbridge Town Hall.
In the wake of the announcement that K Leisure is to run the hall, Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy welcomed the move, but emphasised the facility needs active management to ensure it delivers on its investment of €1m.
“We need a person or group who have the time and motivation to come up with ideas to maximise the use of the Hall for Newbridge and for the tax-payer who funded it,” she said.
“Part of this role should include a differentiated pricing structure that takes account of ability to pay and the benefits to the community of permitting an applicant to use the Town Hall where they cannot afford to pay. Some community groups that pay massive dividends to the community, but who cannot afford the €40/hour fee, should not be in the same pricing category as private and other sponsored events that can afford to pay.”
She said the hall has been painstakingly renovated and she was grateful to the council, and in particular CEO, Peter Carey, without whose commitment, the Hall would yet be completed.
“However, at the end of over two years of talking and over one year of completion we are still no closer to a vibrant facility optimised for different uses at different times of the day,” she said.
She highlighted how both herself and her council colleague, Cllr Mark Lynch (SF), repeatedly questioned the possible use of the hall at the Municipal District meetings and were told by the Director of Services for that department that he had set up a board of management to look at possible uses. Further reports followed suggesting ways in which the hall might be used for events including weddings, and it was suggested to wait a year to see how the use evolved.
"And yet recently, I followed up for a constituent who wanted to use the hall for a wedding to find no action had been taken to proceed with the necessary certification from the HSE to make weddings possible,” she said.
"That there is a central public place to manage bookings of the Town Hall is to be welcomed. To date there has been no transparency around access to the Hall. While a Silver Service for a Minister, TDs and Council officials with food cooked by a celebrity chef was reportedly arranged, applied for and accepted all in one morning in June, other applicants were being asked to submit various health and safety, insurance and other documents before they would be considered,” she said.
“However, having a bookings system does not go far enough and can't deliver a vibrant facility for all our constituents.”