FORDINGBRIDGE town council could be forced to take out a loan to pay for repairs to the town hall.

The annual meeting on April 18 heard that the hall was “not in a very good condition”.

Councillor Malcolm Connolly, said: “It looks fine and we do as much as we can with it but it is not in very good condition and we need to spend money on it.

“The roof and its connected parts are not quite as connected as we would like them to be, which we think is cause for concern.

“At the same time we are going to research the viability of making changes to the town hall and bring it up for more modern use. We would like to house all our staff under one roof – so we are looking at that.

“Once again we will be consulting with you about that.”

The town council’s finance officer told the meeting that the council would probably have to take out a loan over the next 20 years for the repairs to the town hall.

A report on the 2017/18 finances said: “There are continuing concerns regarding the town hall roof and clock tower and investigation works are currently underway.

“It is anticipated that the works required will be considerable.”

Previously, the town council has discussed the idea of moving staff from the tourist information centre into the town hall.

The meeting heard the town council’s share of council tax in 2017/18 was £194,000 and it had an additional income of about £75,000 from the lengthsman scheme, funding from developers, which had to be put toward specific uses, as well as hall letting, recreation ground, fishing and hanging basket fees.

Spending included work to replace the windows at the Memorial Bungalow, new signage at the Recreation Ground and the purchase of a replacement vehicle for the groundsman.

The report said: “The most significant area of expenditure has been the Christmas lights, where repairs and replacements have produced an overspend in that budget area.”

This overspend was being “reviewed” by the council.

The meeting also heard that there had been a small number of applications from groups and community organisations for grants. Of the £5,000 allocated in the budget only £2550 was allocated.