Labor offers New Norfolk Memorial Hall upgrade

DECADES-OLD problems at the New Norfolk War Memorial Hall will be rectified if the Australian Labor Party (ALP) wins office at this months State Election, Lyons candidate Ben Dudman said today. Visiting the hall with Derwent Valley Council mayor Michelle Dracoulis, Mr Dudman said a Labor Government would provide a $400,000 grant for repairs and upgrades.

The front entrance to the War Memorial Hall.

Cr Dracoulis said the hall had been built 70 years ago and many of its fixtures and facilities had not been changed since then. She said all parties contesting the State Election had been advised of the council’s priorities and Labor was the only one to respond so far.

“I’m very happy on behalf of the future Labor Government to announce that we will invest $400,000, which is the full funding request from the council, to do a full refurbishment and make sure it can go another 70 years,” Mr Dudman said.

He said this would involve the complete fit-out of ageing toilets, upgrading of lighting and electrical systems, green room refurbishment, kitchen renewal and replacing the front entrance doors. The toilets in the hall are mostly as they were when the hall opened in 1955. Mr Dudman said the Labor Party’s commitment would cover the whole cost of the upgrades, with no contribution required from the council.

Toilets worthy of a heritage listing.

Cr Dracoulis said the hall was already home to the Derwent Valley Concert Band and she hoped the improvements would open it up to increased community use. “It’s an incredible space and we’ve got people working on our staff who have had their wedding receptions in here,” Cr Dracoulis said. “It could be much better utilised than it is.”

Cr Dracoulis said the hall was also the council’s designated emergency evacuation centre for the southern side of the town, with the sports centre serving the same purpose on the northern side. Mr Dudman said the proposed improvements would make the hall a much more comfortable space in the event of emergencies requiring its use as an evacuation centre.

Derwent Valley Council acting general manager Amanda McCall said the municipality was fortunate to have a secondary place that could cater as an emergency centre if the sports centre was rendered inaccessible by flood inundation, for example.

A cloak room in almost original condition.

Ms McCall said the council had already investigated the feasibility of installing a lift to provide improved access to the hall, which is presently via stairs from the foyer. Accessibility will also be improved in the toilets and via wider front doors. She said the proposed works would be sensitive to the history of the building.

Note: Cr Dracoulis is an ALP member who was endorsed as a candidate for the current election before deciding to withdraw to focus on her role as mayor of the Derwent Valley Council.

Main picture: Derwent Valley Council mayor Michelle Dracoulis and Lyons Labor candidate Ben Dudman in the foyer of the New Norfolk War Memorial Hall.

See more Derwent Valley and Central Highlands news online and read our print edition every second Friday.

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