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Likely £30,000 facelift for Ecchinswell Village Hall

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Hall trustees' grant application supported by parish council

ECCHINSWELL village hall is in line for a facelift after the parish council paved the way towards a £30,000 borough council grant.

Joint treasurer of the hall trustees, Chris Hutchings, attended a meeting of Ecchinswell, Sydmonton and Bishops Green Parish Council on November 9, with the aim of securing the parish council’s support.

The hall committee has applied for a £30,000 Local Infrastructure Fund (LIF) grant from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, which holds the purse strings.

Mr Hutchings said cash would fund the repainting of the hall, new windows and doors and a new suspended floor – the latter being the most expensive item at £16,000.

Originally the application was for £42,000, including £12,000 for an all-weather cricket pitch, but the committee had decided to submit a further grant application for this at a later date.

Mr Hutchings said the hall was losing bookings because the floor had cracks in it and this prevented dance groups from using it.

A modern jive group had been searching the local area for a new venue, following the closure and demolition in March of the Liberty ballroom, at Greenham Business Park.

The organisers had visited the Ecchinswell hall, but crossed it off the list as a possible new venue, owing to inadequate flooring for dance.

A ballet teacher had also said the floor was unsuitable for dance classes and users said they disliked the terracotta colour of the walls, which had also put off potential hirers.

Council chairman Tim Hall said the paintwork needed to be a neutral, practical colour, due to children’s parties held there.

Mr Hutchings said the floor the committee had in mind was a sports floor and which could also be used as a dance floor.

“We are looking for a milder version of a sprung floor – the full version, if you go for it, is £35,000,” said Mr Hutchings.

A line dancing class once a month brought in an annual income of £750 and the hall trustees were keen to increase overall income.

Mr Hall said the LIF pot of money was available for any village groups to apply for, however no other applications had been received.

The council approved the grant application on the understanding that the borough council would carry out an assessment of the value for money and sustainability of the proposals.

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