BRECHINERS have sent a clear message to Angus Councillors over the future of the City Hall.
And it’s very simple: “Get the money you promised out and get the job done.”
With local government elections on the horizon for next year, and pending Holyrood elections on the cards, locals have spoken out in great numbers on a building they are rightly proud of and want to see invested in, just like the other civic halls in Angus.
And the problem now facing our local councillors, whatever their political allegiances, is that around 1000 votes are at stake - enough to put a councillor or two in or kick them out of office.
That figure reflects the number of people who have, so far, signed the petition for action on the City Hall.
Opposition Councillor Mairi Evans said she is not in the least surprised at the response.
As a democratically elected councillor herself, she is only too well aware of the potential to lose or gain votes over such an issue.
“The City Hall is something that people feel really strongly about and the petition itself epitomises that.
“People are more than happy to put their names to it because they don’t want to see an asset like that get into the condition it has been allowed to.
“They don’t want it to get any more dilapidated than it already is and render it out of use completely.
“I often wonder myself if we are developing a paranoia about the way Brechin is treated.
“We have a lot of evidence in terms of the City Hall, where we were meant to be second on the list after Kirriemuir.
“There was £1 million set aside in the capital budget for works on the hall.
“But anyone can look through the budgets and see that it’s now something like 2014 until any money is likely to be spent on it.
“Why? Because they needed every spare bit of the capital budget for Montrose’s new swimming pool and it was convenient for them to drop the city hall plans.”
Councillor Evans says that the petition keeps the issue in the council’s mind.
“It underlines that the condition of the City Hall not being forgotten about.
“In fact, people still feel strongly about it and still want to see it investment in it.
“We will go on collecting names. This is something that will keep going until work is actually undertaken on the site.
“I am looking forward to the next Brechin partnership meetings because we asked to get costings to see if we could take the project forward.
“As soon as plans start to emerge or there is a definitive plan put forward to invest in the infrastructure, then and only then, can it come to a close.
“In the meantime, it’s important to keep gathering support so people in the council know just how special the City Hall is to the people of Brechin.”
Council leader Bob Myles said: “The City Hall is an asset for years to come and one I want to see invested in, but we don’t have a great deal of cash.”
However, he added that there was never any money in the capital budget in immediate years to be spent by any party. “We have to work within the budgets we get.
“We have delivered a swimming pool in Montrose at a very good price.
“There are tough financial times ahead. We have to budget for those and spend our money the best way we can.
“I would love to spend a £1 million on the City Hall tomorrow, but that money is not there.
“With the cuts we are currently getting from the Scottish Government we have to be careful how we invest our money. “I do feel the City Hall is a worthwhile investment but you have to balance that with other priorities.”