THE Christmas baubles may be blowing out for 2012 but the party season in Linlithgow is far from over.
This week it was revealed that those booking the Burgh Halls for events can now choose their own caterers.
As of December 24, the cafe and bar has been run by West Lothian Council, and they are due to reopen to the public on Monday, January 7.
The catering move is a radical departure from April 2011 when Glasshouse Hospitality was awarded the lease from the council to run the café, making them the chosen caterer for all events booked at the Burgh Halls. This followed two years of extensive refurbishment on the iconic townhouse.
But on October 12 this year, Glasshouse went into liquidation and GH Event Catering bought the assets of the company from liquidators, putting them in charge of the café and catering service.
This week the catering arrangements changed again, but it is hoped the move will provide more choice for those who want to book the venue for local events.
A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: “This change will allow anyone booking events at Linlithgow Burgh Halls to use any licensed caterer of their choice to supply food, including former leaseholder, GH Event Catering.
“Letters have already been issued to those with existing bookings. We understand that deposits have been paid to Glasshouse Hospitality and GH Event Catering for a number of events in Linlithgow Burgh Halls, and we will reimburse these deposits for anyone who wishes to cancel their booking or use an alternative caterer.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused, but the changes are necessary in order to remove uncertainty and clarify the future operating arrangements for events at Linlithgow Burgh Halls.”
This week the development was welcomed by West Lothian Provost Tom Kerr.
He said: “This is good news, and what I was looking for at the start when the Burgh Halls were first reopened.
“There will be facilities for community groups to bring in their own caterers under WLC co-ordinator supervision and I think this is a good way forward. I hope it will encourage community groups who used to use the halls in the past to return.”
Although Mr Kerr praised Glasshouse for the service they provided at local events over recent years, he added the move would mean use of the Burgh Halls could now be more flexible, and a good solution for the premises, used for a variety of events from community group meetings to weddings.
In February 2011, the Journal and Gazette reported on controversy surrounding the re-opening of the Burgh Halls, as some local groups felt they were being priced out of hiring the halls, as the caterers, Glasshouse Hospitality, made the bill too expensive. It is now hoped that local groups, previously deterred by costs, will now return to use the community facility.
Bookings at the Burgh Halls for next Christmas are now being taken.