So, the Tenterfield Shire Council think it's a good idea to relocate the Tenterfield Community Band Hall to Leeches Gully, really!
After several requests to the Tenterfield Shire Council Mayor, Ms Bronwyn Petrie (January 19), and two subsequent meetings where the subject of the band hall was raised, my official letter to the mayor requesting that the band hall be returned to the local pipe band as a venue for practice and home has not been responded to.
This appears to be a common occurrence of late.
Tenterfield Highlanders Pipe Band has requested that consideration be given to the band hall being returned to the community for its intended use as a band hall for local community band use.
As many in our community would be aware the Tenterfield Highlanders Pipe Band has provided services to our community before and since the disbandment of the Tenterfield Caledonian Pipe Band commencing in 1982.
Unfortunately, at this time, when the Caledonian Pipe Band disbanded, the Tenterfield Highlanders were offered the use of this hall by the Tenterfield Shire Council only to have that offer withdrawn two weeks later and the hall handed to the Gem Club.
Since that time Tenterfield Shire Council has provided the band with yearly funding of $600 until this year when it was reduced to $500. This funding was in lieu of the band not having a home and to assist with rental fees of a premise.
Unfortunately, over time and without a designated space the band has slowly dwindled in numbers. However, we have been able to maintain our commitment to Australia Day and Anzac Day by using these funds to bring players home for those occasions. These players have come from afar as Yeppoon, Brisbane, Toowoomba, Ballina, Woolgoolga and Grafton.
Recently we have been fortunate to have several new pipers move to our town who are willing to teach and help rebuild the band.
While this a wonderful outcome for our community it creates a problem as the only locations available for practice are out of town on private properties.
Without a dedicated home we are concerned that it will not be possible to grow the band sustainably into the future, creating a further barrier to young people wishing to learn the art of playing the highland bagpipe and drums or any other instrument.
From an historical point of view the ongoing presence of a community band is extremely important to the heritage and history of our community.
These bands, including the municipal brass bands, have assisted in maintaining musical connections in the past, present and hopefully into the future. The history and importance that the band hall holds within our community is highlighted on Pages 16, 17 and 18 of Ken Halliday's book, Tenterfield Highlands....On a different plateau, and reinforce why this facility should not be removed from our community.
I also draw to the reader's attention recent events where other organisations struggling to find suitable facilities to go about their business. The band hall was built specifically for the use of local bands and should remain and continue to provide that service now and into the future.
While it appears that the sole reason for relocating this facility is because the hall is of some financial risk to council, we think this is a limited view and the outcome is certainly not suitable to the community of Tenterfield. Not providing a suitable facility for a community band when one already exists is not reasonable or fair.
Without important infrastructure such as a community band hall, the likelihood of sustaining and encouraging young members becomes almost impossible.
The encouragement of community activity such as a pipe band is critical to the ongoing development of our community and adds to the very fabric that make our community the great place it is to live, work and play.
It is also to be pointed out that this building was built with materials donated by local businesses, the actual construction was undertaken by volunteer labour from the Tenterfield Municipal Brass Band and Tancred Brothers Meatworks on reserve parkland dedicated in 1866.
The removal of this hall to Leeches Gully is selfish and detrimental to our community, lacks any vision or foresight and shows no regard for our heritage and community history.
Questions that don't appear to have answers include:
What does the proposed $50,000 contribution by council to the removal of the hall cover?
Will council remove the internal asbestos sheeting before removal to make safe as once the asbestos is disturbed it will need to be removed?
Has a heritage impact statement been prepared and who is funding this?
What are the expected costs to the Leeches Gully community to have this hall relocated to their area?
Do the residents of Leeches Gully want or see the value in having the liability of a community hall?
Tenterfield Highlanders Pipe Band seek the support of the community to stop this proposed action and return the band hall for its intended use.
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