Councillors discuss Foakes Hall reopening with health and costs concerns

Great Dunmow Town Council/E.T. Foakes Memorial Hall. Photo: Andra Maciuca.

Great Dunmow Town Council/E.T. Foakes Memorial Hall. Photo: Andra Maciuca. - Credit: Andra Maciuca

Foakes Hall is open again to the public on a case by case basis, Great Dunmow Town Councillors have decided in a meeting.

A few hirers have already been approved, but the town council is currently having to restrict the number of hirers to one per day, to ensure a deep clean between hirers.

Fees will remain the same. Shihan Andrew Turner, senior instructor at the Dunmow Kyokushinkai Karate Club, was among those who requested permission to use the building. His club has been holding training online throughout lockdown.

The club celebrated its 35th anniversary this year, and has more than 60 members aged six to 60.

Councillor Peter Noble read a letter from Mr Turner, which stated they would follow Covid-19 protocols.

“I would clean the door handles when we finish. We just need space and a roof over our heads.”

Cllr Amanda Brown said other local authorities are opening their halls, so Dunmow should too. “It’s for everyone’s health benefit, not for a select few,” she said.

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Cllr Danielle Frost said the facilities should be open because the weather is changing and people should be able to meet as safely as possible.

Cllr Patrick Lavelle also made the case for the reopening of the hall. “We are aware that there is a significant problem with isolation in Uttlesford.”

The clerk’s recommendation was to open the building to the public on an appointment basis, and Cllr Noble suggested carrying out risk assessments and welcoming individuals who meet the council’s requirements.

Councillors also discussed the cost implications of reopening the hall.

Cllr Barrie Easter said: “We are going to be more out of pocket to open it than to not open it.”

The mayor Cllr Mike Coleman replied: “As a council, we do have a health and mental health responsibility towards the community.

“We have to try our best and that might cost us a little bit of money.”

Councillors agreed with 10 votes in favour and two abstentions to open the hall, and to keep fees the same.