East Lothian Council delays decision suspending community grants

Wednesday April 26th 2023


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Councillors have delayed a decision on suspending grants from a £7 million community fund amid concern over the impact on local groups.

East Lothian finance officers had proposed putting a hold on grants which are issued from Musselburgh Common Good Fund while it waits for the costs of work needed on one of its main assets to be confirmed.

The Brunton Hall, which is East Lothian’s main theatre venue, has been partially closed after concerns were raised over material used in its roof.

However a meeting of East Lothian Council today saw council leader Norman Hampshire call for a decision on the move to be shelved until June as he asked officers to produce more details on the impact it will have.

He told fellow councillors: “The decisions we will have to make as councillors in the year ahead will be very difficult. I feel we need more detail on Common Good Funds, the assets they own and how we can manage that before we make this decision.”

Officials had proposed councillors agreed to suspend grants from the Musselburgh fund and three other Common Good Funds in Dunbar, Haddington and North Berwick while their assets were reviewed.

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.

Councillors were told that the first priority of the funds was to maintain assets, in Musselburgh’s case including The Brunton which 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.

Officers said it could be two or three months before it is known how much work on The Brunton will cost.

A review of the council’s Community Intervention Fund was also planned however Mr Hampshire called for a report on how much the fund had paid out to also be provided to councillors at the next meeting as he called for the actions proposed to be brought back to June’s council meeting.

His call was unanimously supported by fellow councillors.

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