Update: 18 December 2020
Questions and answers on Elmbridge Public Halls
At the December meeting of Elmbridge Borough Council, the Leader of the Council, Cllr Stuart Selleck and the Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Cultural Services, Cllr Janet Turner, updated Council on the future of Elmbridge public halls, especially Vine Hall and Elmgrove.
The Council agreed that that any options for making the best use of the Vine Hall site in the long-term must include a replacement community facility and protection of the 2nd Molesey Scout Group, and the possibility of some affordable housing. At the same time the Council agreed to engage actively with the local community to invite suggestions and ideas about how Vine Hall and Elmgrove can be re-opened in the short-term, including the option of the hall reopening as a community managed facility.
Both Councillors were keen to point out that any viable business plan would be considered, and engagement and consultation with residents and users of the halls was identified as important in any future plans for the halls.
Expressions of interest in the future running of Vine Hall or Elmgrove should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, when a follow up meeting will be arranged to discuss the details needed for a business plan and viability options.
Leaders Statement: Vine Hall, 25 November 2020
The council closed all its public halls, including Vine Hall with effect from 21 March in line with Government advice following the outbreak the coronavirus epidemic. The Government has advised that community facilities such as public halls should only be reopened when they can comply with Government guidance on making community facilities COVID-19 secure.
While the halls have been closed the Council has assessed their condition and reviewed their usage to assist planning for their reopening once the COVID restrictions ease. We recognise that Vine Hall has long been a much-loved community facility in Molesey. Unfortunately, however, the work undertaken by our officers has confirmed that its use cannot be extended for very much longer without significant investment, and that it would be impractical and uneconomic to prop it up indefinitely.
This is not a conclusion we have reached lightly. We know how highly the residents of Molesey value Vine Hall. But in recent years it has not had particularly high usage, and bookings have been affected by alternative and higher quality facilities close by. For example, the council has invested in the re-configuration of the Molesey Centre, Mole Hall, and there are a number of other church and voluntary sector halls close by that all compete in the same hiring market.
As a way forward, we are recommending to the Council is that we explore possible options for how to make best use of the Vine Hall site over the longer-term. But I would like to make it clear that any options we consider must include a replacement community facility, and also protect the position of the 2nd Molesey Scout Group, whose Scout Hut is sited at the rear of the hall.
In the meantime, I can reassure residents that we want to look at how we might enable Vine Hall to reopen in the short-term, and we will consider any suggestions or expressions of interest which might come forward. I have seen suggestions that there may be interest in running the hall as a community-led facility and we will be pleased to consider any viable proposals which come forward. In the coming months the Council will be engaging with the wider Molesey community to assess the future demand for the use of the hall, and any proposals about how to run it.
We are also continuing to liaise with the previous users of Vine Hall to help them resume their activities when they are able to do so, and we have added some frequently asked questions to the Council’s website.
Stuart Selleck, Leader, Elmbridge Borough Council, 25 November 2020
Update from 20 November
As part of the response to the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19, Elmbridge Public Halls closed on 21 March 2020 in line with government guidance and still remain closed today. Considering the ongoing social distancing restrictions, these are unlikely to be able to reopen in the near future.
There are a large number of other halls for hire within the borough including many schools, church halls, Elmbridge Centres for the Community and many other voluntary sector clubs and organisations. Given the relatively low take up of the Elmbridge Public Halls, and the ongoing maintenance and management costs to the council, it is proposed (subject to council approval in December) to permanently close Vine Hall and Elmgrove and to offer hirers the option to relocate to one of the other nearby community facilities or the newly refurbished Hersham Village Hall. Both Vine and Elmgrove halls will be made available as polling stations for 2021.
We understand this change will be unsettling for the hirers of both Vine and Elmgrove halls and we apologise for the inconvenience but they should be assured that we will do all we can to find them a suitable new home.