Skipton Town Hall cancellation leaves Guides in the cold

Craven Herald: Skipton Town Hall Skipton Town Hall

A planned district-wide annual gathering of 300 girl guides has been left in tatters because of safety issues at Skipton Town Hall.

The North East gathering of the Trefoil Guild – due to be held in April – is the second major event to be cancelled by Craven District Council because of a temporary restriction on numbers.

The council, which is carrying out major repairs to the building, has been left with a temporary 100-person maximum on events because of structural problems with one of the fire exits.

On Tuesday, a Skipton Music concert, featuring renowned pianist Jayson Gillham, had to be moved with less than a week’s notice to Christ Church, at the other end of town.

Organisers, who had been told just days beforehand, posted people on the town hall steps to redirect the 200 or so concertgoers to Keighley Road where the start was delayed by 15 minutes.

Now, organisers of the North East Trefoil meeting, which had been provisionally booked since last May, have been told to look elsewhere.

Margaret Lawson, charged with organising the event, said 300 guides from all over the North East were set to attend the meeting, which will also have included several chairmen, including the guild’s national chairman.

It was to have included a dinner for the executive members ahead of the afternoon meeting with a speaker.

“The reason we have the annual meetings in towns is because people are coming from a long way away and they can spend the morning shopping and visiting places, like the castle, “ she said.

Now, unless she can find another venue in the town capable of holding so many people, the event may have to be moved elsewhere. The trouble is, there is just not another venue in the town with the capacity. I will look, but it looks like we’re stuck.”

Craven District Council, which recently started major improvements to the hall, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds, has had to close a fire exit on the Jerry Croft side of the hall.

It plans to build a new fire exit on the site of the old one, but before it can do that it will have to apply for listed building consent – which is not expected to be given until May.

A council spokesman said: “A separate structural issue was uncovered on the Jerry Croft side of the building. Due to movement to the lean-to on this side, it has had to be cordoned off for safety reasons. Therefore the lean-to cannot be used as a fire escape. The council has taken fire safety advice and this has temporarily restricted capacity for events in the main hall to 100.

“A listed building consent application has been submitted to demolish the lean-to and will be reviewed by the council’s planning committee and by the Government Office for Yorkshire and Humber to ensure impartiality.

“The council will demolish the lean-to once the planning application has been approved and reinstate the fire exit. It is expected that this will be completed by the end of May.”

The spokesman added that the council was contacting all organisers of events due to be held at the hall.

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