Lerwick Town Hall should be promoted as the isles’ “premier building” hosting a wide-ranging variety of events, exhibitions and orchestras, the SIC heard on Wednesday as it decided to revive the town hall sub-committee.
Cecil Smith and Frank Robertson were elected as chairman and vice-chairman of the committee respectively, along with a single member from each of the country wards plus two each from Lerwick North and South, including the post-holders.
The committee will also seek representation from the Lerwick Community Council and from the association of community councils.
Mr Robertson, whose professional involvement with the town hall goes back to the 1980s, said that the building could become an earning centre and the council should push heavily to promote it.
The Victorian structure – the “premier building” in Shetland according to Mr Robertson – recently won Grade A status as a listed building and as such is eligible for external funding.
It is also planned to embark on a £1.7 million repair programme, aimed at replacing eroded stonework and protecting its stained glass.
Mr Robertson said: “There’s a tremendous opportunity here to promote the building. If anyone has sat on local hall committies you would realise the success of the hall is its promotion by a whole body of volunteers.
“We are about to embark on another process of refurbishment of some of the stonework. The town hall has been raised to category A and that should have happened years ago. Now it has opportunity of external funding.”
Mr Robertson said that the committee’s prime responsibility was the integration of consultants, contractors and “all those experts” working on the job.
He added: “It is essential that it’s maintained as it has some of best pre-war stained glass in Scotland.
“We want to ensure that the committee handles the contract properly and carries out its promotion as the most important building in Shetland.”
It was also decided at an “informal” meeting of SIC councillors and Lerwick Community Council members at the end of the summer to drop the use of “Lerwick” in the town hall’s name.
A report by director of corporate services Christine Ferguson, which was approved by the council, stated that the term “Lerwick Town Hall” was “seldom heard in usage”.
As the town hall was essentially “for the use and service of the whole Shetland community”, the title “Shetland’s Town Hall” was overly clumsy and simply “the town hall” was probably the best usage.”
The councillors appointed to the committee were: Cecil Smith and Peter Campbell (Lerwick South); Malcolm Bell and Michael Stout (Lerwick North); Robert Henderson (North Isles); Andrea Manson (Shetland North); Frank Robertson (Shetland West); Davie Sandison (Shetland Central) and Allison Duncan (Shetland South).