Hillswick Hall is to get a grant of more than £92,000 for an upgrade which was first proposed in 2004.
The council’s social services committee unanimously agreed on Wednesday to award the money, which will cover improvements to make the hall fully accessible and more energy efficient.
These include a new kitchen, upgraded cloakroom and toilet areas, new plumbing and electrics and energy efficiency measures such as new windows, insulation and relining. The hall will be redecorated throughout.
The committee heard from executive manager of community planning and development Vaila Simpson that a community consultation in 2006 showed “strong support” among locals for the proposed upgrade. According to the meeting’s agenda, questionnaires sent to over 100 households and all user groups achieved the high return rates of 83 per cent and 100 per cent respectively.
In 2007 the hall appointed a professional design team to develop the project, and later applied for planning permission and a building warrant. In 2010 funding applications were started – the project has now secured offers of £228,214 from the EU LEADER programme and £10,000 from the Robertson Trust. The hall itself has raised the considerable sum of more than £44,000 through fund-raising activities.
Last year tenders were invited for the project, the lowest of which put the total cost of the proposed upgrade at £347,887. However it was time-limited to next month, making obtaining the balance of the funding crucial. The external funding could also have been in jeopardy if match funding was not given.
Councillor Gary Robinson moved that the revenue grant of £92,279 be awarded. This follows an amount of £20,000 previously awarded by SIC. Councillors Alastair Cooper and Laura Baisley raced to second Mr Robinson.
Councillor Cecil Smith said it was good to see a small community “put its hand in its pocket” and the venture should be supported, and councillor Allison Duncan said people had worked very hard for the last seven years.
Mr Cooper, whose constituency the hall is in, said Hillswick Hall had always been a good hall and credit should go to the hall committee for doing what they had by voluntary effort.
Fellow local councillor Bill Manson said it was “lang lippened”.
Ms Baisley said she had made a point of being at the meeting, having travelled from Yell on a wet and windy day. She said: “It’s really important to support voluntary groups. It’s like wading through treacle to get funding, you have to go to different bodies with different requirements, so it’s a real challenge.”