Brunton Theatre may cause East Lothian Common Good Fund to be suspended

Wednesday April 19th 2023


The Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Grant applications to a £7 million fund set up to benefit people in East Lothian’s largest town are set to be suspended amid concern over the cost of repairs to its local theatre

East Lothian Councillors will be asked to suspend new applications to Musselburgh Common Good Fund next week as the local authority waits for the results of a structural survey on The Brunton Hall.

The town’s main venue, which includes a theatre, community rooms and council offices, was closed for performances last month after the council found Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) had been used in roof slabs.

The lightweight concrete material which was used in construction between the 1950s and 1980s has been identified as a concern by Government because it can crack and crumble.

Local authorities across Scotland have been carrying out checks on all public buildings to identify where the material has been used and take any action needed.

A report to East Lothian councillors next week will warn that surveys of the theatre suggest repairs will involve a ‘significant investment’ at a time when the council is already taking cost cutting measures across services.

It asks councillors to suspend new grant applications to the Musselburgh Common Good Fund’ until a clear understanding as to the implications associated with the current closure of Brunton Theatre and Venues 1 & 2 are assessed’.

East Lothian has four Common Good Funds covering Musselburgh, Dunbar, Haddington and North Berwick with an estimated wealth of more than £9million between them.

The Musselburgh fund which includes assets such as the theatre and Musselburgh Racecourse land, is by far the largest with nearly £7 million in its accounts.

Officers are urging councillors to suspend new applications for grants from any of the funds as surveys of other buildings in each area are carried out.

Their recommendation to councillors states: “In light of the emerging pressures associated with the Brunton Hall, which is a Common Good asset, it is further recommended that new grant applications for the other Common Good areas be placed on hold from the date of this meeting, pending an updated assessment of property maintenance requirements for all Common Good assets.

“This will ensure that funding is available for potential liabilities to be met from within the Common Good budgets.”

Councillors will decide whether to support the officers’ request at a virtual meeting on Tuesday.

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