THE Burgh Halls project was called the “town’s big secret” this week as confusion reigns as to when it will finally open.
Work on the £5.2 million Burgh Halls project started in October 2008 and was originally due for completion by March 2010 - but this week a definitive opening date for the town’s most famous building remained elusive.
Last August, the Journal and Gazette reported the project was back on track with Livingston based builders Maxi Construction Ltd, after original contractors Hunter Clark went into administration in June. At that time, it was predicted the doors would be open by December 2010. At a site visit last October, it was thought the date would be late January 2011.
But this week, a West Lothian spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, severe weather in December resulted in the contractor experiencing delays. However, they have arranged for additional resources to be utilised and are confident that the construction work will be completed by the end of February 2011.”
However, a further four weeks is needed to fit out the building with furniture and equipment. Groups with provisional bookings are being kept informed, said the council.
The spokesperson added: “We are planning to be fully open to the public by the Easter weekend. Although the delay in the building opening is unfortunate we remain confident that visitors will be delighted when they see the completed venue.”
The council has agreed with caterers Glasshouse Hospitality that Easter weekend (Friday, April 22) is the time to fully reopen to the public, but they hope to hold some events before then.
But without a completion date being confirmed to them, organisers of events such as the town’s Marches have been left in the dark as to whether they can use the building. Deacons’ Court Provost Norman Cummings is getting ready for his third and final Marches without the iconic Burgh Halls.
He said: “The Deacons’ Court is in the dark - we have had no information about this. I am very dis- appointed we cannot lay anything in place and I think we will be using the Marquee for the Marches. We don’t know what the caterer will charge us if it is open and we don’t know where we stand.
“It is very disappointing - this is the town’s big secret.”
The refurbished Burgh Halls will be able to cater for up to 120 in its function rooms and will be a multi-purpose centre for the town featuring heritage interpretation, visual arts and crafts, arts education programmes, events and activities.
Linlithgow Young People’s Project (LYPP) celebrates its 21st anniversary this year and hopes to use the Royal Burgh’s most famous townhouse as a venue. Isobel Smith at the LYPP said: “We have May 21 booked at present. We are looking forward to the opening of the Burgh Halls and hope we won’t be affected. We do have a back up but hopefully it won’t be needed!”
Contractors Maxi Construction were unable to comment but a council spokesperson said the project was on course to remain in budget.