The Ramsey Courthouse is set for a new lease of life as a social hub for everyone in the town.
The commissioners have granted an initial two-year lease to Ramsey Community Hub, a newly-formed charity with chairman Alby Oldham, deputy chairman Dave Redmayne, secretary Heather Ruffino and treasurer Dot Price.
It has taken nearly five years to reach this stage.
The Courthouse area was identified as the ‘heart of Ramsey’ in a public consultation some years ago. But the future of the historic building was placed in doubt in 2017 when it was put up for sale by the Department of Home Affairs.
The last occupant was the post office, which had moved into the main street.
After concerns that it might fall into private hands, the commissioners successfully negotiated to buy it for £450,000. As part of the agreement, they leased the police office at the town hall to the DHA for 25 years, at an annual rent of £14,800. Over time, this will offset a large portion of the purchase price.
Commissioners’ chairman Ffinlo Williams said they were delighted to have, at last, signed a lease with the new charity.
Earlier interest by a different party had not come to fruition and the tendering process had to start all over again.
‘The whole process had taken a long time due to the legal ramifications. Happily, it had all now received approval.
‘We always maintained the view that the Courthouse should remain a key part of the town centre, providing benefit to the community, whilst being financially sustainable,’ he said.
‘It’s a shame it’s taken so long to get the wheels moving, but now it should run along smoothly by itself.
‘The aim is to bring people together, building on what has already been started. The possibilities are endless.’
Alby Oldham said that ‘The Hub’ would be open every day and be administered by the committee, all of whom were all volunteers.
‘For the winter period, it will be used primarily as a ‘warm space’, where people can just drop in and have a chat over a hot drink. If the door is open, you’re welcome to come in!’
Both inside and out are already used each Saturday for the popular farmers’ market and on the last Sunday of each month for an artisans’ fair run by local craftspeople.
Future plans include a monthly cinema club in the room upstairs.
All areas are available for hire – the large space downstairs, a similar space upstairs, plus four smaller rooms. To find out more, phone Alby on 472541.
Christmas at the Courthouse will include Santa’s grotto over the weekend of Saturday, December 3 (2pm to 6pm) and Sunday, December 4 (12noon to 4pm). No booking is required.