Town Hall banners warning

Councillors have received clarification about the ­erection of banners at ­Morpeth Town Hall.

Following discussions with some of the people who have been putting up large notices for upcoming events at the front of the building, the town council looked into possible alternative methods for fixing them onto the catenary wires.

But at a meeting of the property and asset management committee, clerk Gillian Turner said that a solution had not been identified to safely install them other than the current options of using a scissor lift or cherry picker.

She added that these were the methods which were envisaged by Greater Morpeth Development Trust when the town hall was refurbished six years ago.

Committee chairman Coun Andrew Tebbutt said: “All the experts we have asked have come back to say that using a scissor lift or cherry picker are the only safe options, so we need to inform those who wish to put up banners that this is the advice we have been given.

“Our insurance would not cover any other methods, so we have to be absolutely clear as a public body that with corporate manslaughter legislation to take into account, we can’t take any risks when it comes to this matter.”

Coun Nic Best said it may be worth discussing ways to help those who want to install banners at a future meeting, for example allowing them to be in position for a longer period.

At the same meeting, Ms Turner gave an update on the issue of air conditioning in the Town Hall.

There have been comments from members of the public that it can get very hot at times in the Corn Exchange and Ballroom.

Northumberland County Council’s property services department arranged for experts from a specialist air conditioning contractor to go along to the building.

They concluded that four air condition units could be wall-mounted in the Corn Exchange, with two condensing units being located in the rear yard.

But these units could not be installed into the Ballroom upstairs due to the internal wooden panelling and its location in relation to a suitable site for the external condensing units.

When Coun Les Cassie asked how feasible it would be to have the units in place in the Corn Exchange, the clerk said the problem issues would be costs (in the region of £25,000 would be required for the works) and getting listed building consent.

Coun Tebbutt said the committee will seek advice from the county council’s listed buildings officer about the potential options for the room, such as having two air conditioning units on the wall instead of four, so it can then have an informed discussion about the best way forward.

Coun Best said he would object to any proposals that involved wall-mounted units.

Other measures that will be looked at include whether or not large fans can be put in place upstairs and downstairs and whether more of the ­upper windows can be opened.