100-year-old meeting hall's future under consideration
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Views are being sought on the future of a meeting space that has hosted residents of a Suffolk town for more than 100 years.
The Gannon Institute, based in the Gannon Rooms in Saxmundham, has been serving the community for over a century.
The rooms provide meeting space for groups and were bestowed as gifts on Saxmundham and a few other locations by rich Victorian women with the name Gannon.
They hoped that it would provide a comfortable space for people to meet.
Since then, people have met at the hall for societies, shows and even birthday parties.
This has continued until recent times apart from a short spell when the Department of Labour took it over during the Second World War.
Over the summer, Saxmundham Town Council was approached by the trustees of the charity managing the building who felt they were no longer able to keep running it.
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They asked if the town council might be able to take over responsibility for it instead.
The council is looking into whether it will take over as managing trustee of the rooms by holding a consultation with residents. Any such move would need to be discussed with the Charity Commission.
It’s understood that the building needs some minor decorative and repair work to bring it back into full use.
Once open the council would be able to get a small income from hire of the space but said there was a risk that major work might need to be carried out in the future.
“For over 100 years it’s been a central part of community life in the town,” said Jeremy Smith, chairman of Saxmundham Town Council.
“Hundreds and thousands of people have used the rooms.
“We believe in principle it could be a great shame to lose it but we are aware it would need work to get it into good condition.
“At the moment we are consulting residents in Saxmundham to see if they share our views.
“We aim to ensure that it remains a positive place for our residents to use for the next 100 years.”
The consultation will remain open until November 5.