Team which secured £1.5m to save Guisborough Town Hall has said forgetting their political persuasion was key to their success
The team which secured a cash injection of more than £1.5m to save Guisborough Town Hall has said "leaving party politics at the door" was the key to their success.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has confirmed it will release £1.1m to help fund a project that will see the Grade II-listed Guisborough Town Hall restored and adapted after standing derelict for six years.
And the team that has fought tooth and nail to secure the funding have said their strictly non-partizan approach has been the secret to their success.
Guisborough Town Hall Gateway Project (GTHGP) Chairman former Labour town councillor Andy Murray and Conservative councillor Dennis Teasdale have worked together on the project.
"It's an interesting thing really," said Mr Murray, "I'm very much a Labour man and Dennis is very much Conservative.
"But we have become great friends through this project and that's because, from the very start, we said we would leave party politics at the door.
“We are delighted with this major award from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and it’s all systems go to bring this project to life!
“This is testament to the hard work, shared responsibility and collective ambition of all the committee members to have secured this funding to transform the town hall into an iconic building for Guisborough for the 21st Century.
“We have consulted the local community since our inception and taken them along our journey and we know that there will be tremendous support for the project.
“Once restored the revamped building will contribute enormously to the economic life of the town and create employment opportunities.”
Additional funding from both the Tees Valley Combined Authority and Redcar and Cleveland Council will see the funding pot reach £1.6m.
Plans include turning Guisborough into the "Gateway to the North York Moors National Park" by transforming the top two floors into visitor accommodation with "a high-quality finish".
The bottom floor will house tourist information, an exhibition-heritage area and retail outlets.
It is expected that 10 full-time jobs will be created.
The historic building, which forms the centrepiece of Guisborough’s Market Place, was built in 1821. It has had many uses from Magistrates Office and Petty Sessions Court to most recently being Solicitors offices and was owned by a pub company.
It has stood empty since 2013 and was bought by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council for £70,000 in 2015.
The Guisborough Town Hall Gateway Project (GTHGP) was established in 2016 as a partnership between the community and the council to secure the future of the Town Hall.
Cllr Wayne Davies, cabinet member for economic development at the council, said: “This is fantastic news for Guisborough and those who have worked so hard on this project.
“This will be a catalyst for the development of Guisborough town as a visitor destination and will bring additional footfall and overnight visitors who will spend locally in the shops and businesses.
"The revamped Town Hall will serve both the communities of Guisborough as well as visitors to the town and the wider region.”
David Renwick, Director of England, North, at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Heritage at risk has been identified as a key priority for our funding, and we are incredibly pleased that money raised by National Lottery players will ensure that the Guisborough Town Hall will be given a new lease of life.
"We also commend the team behind the project in finding innovative ways to ensure that the Town Hall will be a commercially viable operation, a vibrant asset for the community and help boost Guisborough’s role as a gateway to the North York Moors National Park.”
Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, said: “I’m delighted that by working together we’ve been able to secure this money for Guisborough.
"The town hall is a beautiful and historic building in our area and to be able to help secure the funding to help with the restoration is a great source of pride to me and to all of those involved.
"It just goes to show that with a more positive outlook and the right people now working together, we can achieve so much for Teesside. Here’s to a great 2020.”
Now funding has been made possible the project team can now complete the technical design, appoint a contractor and market the commercial spaces.