A LOCAL development group hoping to run Forres Town Hall aims to reduce rental costs for its users.
Forres Area Community Trust (FACT) announced in July it is investigating the possibility of a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) of the B-listed building, which is regularly used by a number of organisations and for events.
Forres Old Age Pensioners’ Club members were outraged by the rising costs of hall hire in 2015, when they claimed the price had doubled.
And local pensioner, John Guthrie, told his fellow Forres Community Council members at this month’s meeting in the Tolbooth that many are concerned that FACT’s takeover could make things worse.
He said: “I have been approached by a few people now who say they are worried about the implications - they are concerned rentals could increase.”
FACT development officer, Debbie Herron, assured the Gazette that reducing costs would be a priority should the transfer go ahead.
She said: “We know from feedback from user groups that they find it difficult to meet charges levied at the current rate.
“If FACT take the town hall on, we must cover its costs and be able to break even, as we have a responsibility to operate in a manner that ensures it is cost-effective.
“That said, our plans include finding ways to reduce running costs, insulating as best as possible and using a heating and lighting system that is fit for purpose in the 21st Century.”
FACT will ascertain exactly what the running costs are during the initial CAT process.
“Once those costs are estimated we will hold open day to show what we have learnt so far,” added Ms Herron, “and to get feedback on the ideas that the architect has developed.
“This will be in October at the earliest.”