Town hall to be made safer for kids

MORPETH Town Hall is set to be made safer for toddlers despite misgivings about the impact of the works on the Grade II-listed building.

Balustrades on the first-floor landing could be lined with toughened glass to prevent youngsters falling through them.

Morpeth Town Council clerk Gillian Turner told county planning committee members that the building’s fortunes have improved of late and it now hosts 20 to 30 weddings a month.

Children were often among wedding parties gathered on the landing near the registrar’s office, the meeting heard.

“The town council cares greatly about the town hall and the heritage of Morpeth, and we wouldn’t want to do anything to mar this beautiful building,” said Miss Turner.

Coun Ian Hutchinson asked why people were not simply advised to keep their children away from the balustrades.

“We live in a namby-pamby world now,” he added.

The town council is seeking listed building consent for the safety barrier, but because the county council owns the building, a decision on the application will have to be made by the government.

County councillors raised no objections to the plans, however.

Kim Bibby-Wilson, of Greater Morpeth Development Trust, said: “Surely, members of the public, including toddlers, should not be allowed to congregate on the stairhead.”

The staircase was added to the John Vanbrugh-designed building in 1870.