THE restoration of Skipton Town Hall was never going to be easy.

Just seven years ago, estimates for its restoration were put at between £7 million and £9 million. But since then, owner Craven District Council, having decided against the perhaps easy option of handing over the building to an historic trust, has made great in-roads in securing its future.

With its commercial hat on, it has realised the future of the building lies not solely in the use it was originally built for, but in a variety of uses, and if that includes giving over part of it to a restaurant, then so be it. It will, in the long run, secure its future.

Skipton Town Hall is a massive building with a network of corridors and oddly-shaped rooms – not exactly the most user-friendly of public buildings. Getting a business interested in coming on board must have been far from easy.

Getting Skipton Town Council would have been easier – the town council used to occupy the building up until the 1970s and it is its natural habitat, complete with council chamber, lined with the portraits of former councillors.

However, with buildings as old as the town hall comes all sorts of issues – the lovely, ornate ceiling in the council chamber with its peeling wallpaper and water damage has always been a sore point, with councillors expressing embarrassment at its condition on the occasion of visiting dignitaries.

Repairs have been made, but appear not to have worked. Water is still getting in.

And now, it seems, a survey of the roof has taken place, which could well lead to the full-scale replacement of the whole structure, or at the very least, more repairs. It won't be cheap; the necessary scaffolding alone will be expensive. But the council appears to be taking it in its stride.

Paul Ellis, director of services, says it is not unexpected. They always knew the roof might have to be replaced at some point. With applications for Lottery and Arts Council funding in, and tenants lined up, it is good to see the council so committed.

The future of Skipton Town Hall – unlike other town halls not so many miles away – looks safe.