This afternoon at 4pm, we attended a Community Meeting at Priestfield Hall, High Blantyre with a view of finding out more about the recent Welfare Fire and what was to happen to the various clubs, businesses and individuals affected. We can provide an update as follows, all discussed within the public domain:
Mr Andy Sim, of the Miner’s Welfare chaired the meeting, together with staff and colleagues from the centre Board. The meeting was also very well represented by several local Councillors, Mo Razzaq, Bert Thomson, Maureen Chalmers, Lynsey Hamilton and Ged Killen MP and it was clear throughout the meeting of the hard work they’ve been doing this week.
Andy spoke first providing an update on the fire and expectations of its aftermath. The welfare advised:
- It is unknown how the fire started, with no signs of break in and that fire officers and police were conducting an investigation.
- The Welfare confirmed they are insured for the rebuilding of the Community Resource Centre.
- The Resource Centre which burned down, WILL be rebuilt, likely next year following loss adjusters assessment. People may have to be patient as the rebuild could take some time, possibly more than a year. It will be built to a high standard but may not look exactly like what was there before. The proposal is to ensure the large concert hall is rebuilt with a view of assessing what sizes of community based rooms and gym is required.
- The Welfare would try their best to accommodate staff at this difficult time.
- The fire had spread and affected the party wall, slightly affecting the main function room adjacent. As such, the main lounge will be out of action until March 2018, following which it is expected to re-open. The Welfare reserve the right fully to change this date depending on the work needing done.
- The lounges on the unaffected side will re-open this evening and be available again for food from the cafe run by Mick McCann, from Saturday 18th November 2017.
- The Welfare confirmed that clubs under their control, like the Boxing Club would be covered under the Welfare Insurance, but that clubs and businesses in the building would have to be covered by their own insurances. It was noted that some clubs affected did indeed have their own insurance to cover some or all loss.
- It was noted however, that some small businesses and clubs, especially sole traders lost equipment and did not hold insurance. The Welfare stated they would help such people by trying to raise funds to assist them, although no promises could be made to cover all loss. Requests for lists of equipment lost and indicative values are to be handed into the welfare by those affected.
- The indoor bowling club , in terms of property is not affected by the fire.
- Heritage items on the walls and in cabinets are entirely lost. These were donations by the late Jimmy Cornfield historian and the Scottish Mining Museum. Blantyre Project offered to replace heritage both in written format and to provide pieces for a new display or museum from private collection.
- It was noted some possessions may never be replaced, eg trophies and medals belonging to the boxing club.
- Fundraisers have already been organised, one in particular in EK being sold out. Efforts would be made to raise money first and foremost to those small uninsured businesses who lost equipment.
- The Welfare are hoping that all fundraisers pay into one main account (helps with accountability), which can be fairly distributed to all affected, rather than separate ‘just giving’ sites.
- We, Blantyre Telegraph provided a compiled list of re-accommodated businesses we were aware of and a list of contact numbers of businesses willing to help.
- Maureen Chalmers advised that discussions are ongoing with ASDA about the use of the eastern Clydeview Shopping units currently vacant, but that this may be temporary only, due to plans for their redevelopment next year.
- It was agreed that the community had rallied impressively and that many businesses were already relocated at alternative venues, although some only as yet on a temporary basis.
- Questions from the audience were taken throughout the meeting, especially from business owners , their concerns answered in a satisfactory manner. It was agreed that businesses displaced would be invited back when the welfare is rebuilt, with priority over any new, or emerging businesses.
- Compliments were paid to the Fire Service, Police, Asda, the Congregational Church for their assistance on the day of the fire. Also to the staff of Blantyre Miners, the committee, ASDA, Blantyre Telegraph and Councillors were all thanked for all their efforts.
Finally, The Welfare promised to provide updates as to what was happening and this may be via our site to reach wider audiences. Councillors and the Welfare will hold further meetings next week with South Lanarkshire Leisure and other departments to help facilitate all remaining groups displaced.