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Faced with its closure in 2006, Teynham Parish Council conducted a consultation survey to investigate the viability of acquiring Teynham Labour Hall. Around 90% of respondents supported the Hall remaining as a community facility and several groups saying that would they faced closure as the only alternative venue, the main Village Hall, is regularly fully booked and too large. Consultation with the Village Hall management confirmed there was limited scope to accommodate groups displaced by the potential closure. Based upon this information and following a public meeting and building and valuation surveys, the Parish Council acquired the Hall, using a Public Works loan and set work in upgrading it to current day standards.
With a handful of willing volunteers, the Hall was cleared out of redundant ‘bits and pieces’, gathered over the 40 odd years of its life, washed down and redecorated. Using a grant from our W.I. Ladies, new curtains were fitted at the windows and the Hall made presentable. The regular groups still met during this period and bookings taken as it was important for the Hall to generate an income.
With grants from the Local Engagement Forum and Biffa Award new tables and chairs were bought. A kind donation from two local ladies bought the Hall a new electric cooker another family donated new cutlery and crockery for 100 place settings and flower planters for outside of the Hall entrance doors.
With confidence that the Hall was viable, the Hall Committee embarked on the first of several major projects, the reconstruction of the toilets financed with money from the Parish Council and from our KCC Member’s grant.. It includes an accessible toilet for people with disabilities. The Bar area and kitchen were refitted by members of the Hall Committee. New bookings were now coming in regularly.
Further donations and help from parishioners enabled the Hall Committee to have stage curtains hung and also to partition off an alcove in the Hall for storage of the tables and chairs which could also be used as a changing room when stage productions are held. A further grant from our KCC Member saw the suspended ceiling replaced and ‘loft’ insulation installe, another from Biffa Award a new, more powerful, warm air heating unit, one from Amicus Horizon, a metal storage container, others from the Local Engagement Forum, a new catering urn, a grass cutter and some green baize game tables.
More recently the Committee was successful in obtaining a National Lottery Award (A4A) for a grant to replace the flat roofing on the Hall’s side extension and all the rainwater goods around the Hall. It was also successful in bidding for money in our KCC Councillor bidding event to purchase some chairs with arms for use by the elderly and/or informed and a selection of chairs able tables for toddlers. A grant from ‘Talk Talk’ helped to finance the construction of storage cupboards in the ‘hirers store room.’ The floor of the main Hall was sanded and resealed funded from the Hall's account.
With initial help from a local farmer and using the services of Swale Borough Council’s community pay back scheme the site, on which the Hall stands, was cleared and a lawned garden set out at the rear. Taking advantage of the Kent Free Trees scheme and with a grant through the Landowner Partnership Project a hedgerow was planted around the back garden. This space is available for use by hirers of the Hall.
To reduce maintenance soil either side of the Hall was removed off site, weed control membrane laid and topped with shingle. Another donation of free trees, from The Woodland Tust this time, were planted along our northern border. In comon with the first planting the trees were a mixture of native varieties suitalbe for forming a traditional hedge including Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Hazel, Dogwood and Field Maple.
The services of Swale Borough Council’s community pay back scheme and another local farmer were again used to improve the right hand side of the car park. The soil was dug out, removed from site and the hole back filled with roadstone.
With a grant from the National Lottery, Awards for All, (A4A) new double glazed windows and external doors have been installed improving the Halls ‘green credentials’. The glazing being of toughened and laminated glass improved security. The thermal insulation of the Hall was further improved by the installation of cavity wall insulation and loft insulation over the toilet and bar areas financed by Hall funds. Energy costs were further reduced by the fitting of LED lighting throughout the Hall and electronic timers on the water heaters and toilet room heaters to prevent them being inadvertently left switched on. LED external floodlights were also fitted.
Another grant from A4A financed a new kitchen with all new modern appliances. A specialist entrance carpet was fitted in the entrance passageway in an attempt to reduce the moisture and debris bought into the Hall on footwear. With the support of the Lynsted with Teynham WI, our KCC and SBC Ward Councillors a Public Accessible Defibrillator has been installed on the front of the Hall.
The Hall is available for hire by parishioners and by residents in the surrounding communities, with personal recommendation widening even further the catchment area. The various user groups also promote it by actively encouraging membership of their respective groups. Every effort is made to give value for money, keeping the hire rates at an affordable level whilst ensuring that the Hall provides a comfortable and safe environment available for hire. . housing associations’ resident's meetings. The successful campaign to buy the Hall gave local people confidence in what they could achieve, which is further increased through tackling the improvements needed.
As Teynham is identified in Swale Borough Council’s Core Strategy as a sustainable location for development for its good range of local services, facilities and rail link and that it also serves the small rural communities around it, with the strong possibility of housing development, the Hall Committee is confident that the need for this well-loved Hall is set to continue. By enhancing the comfort and the general appearance of the Hall it will encourage greater sustainable usage to ensure its long term financial viability.