Mixed reactions to new-look Town Hall

PUBLISHED: 11:11 11 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:22 06 May 2010

Town Hall refurbishment has brought a mixed response

Town Hall refurbishment has brought a mixed response

THE NEW-look St Albans Town Hall with a tea and coffee house operating from the front of the building has drawn mixed reactions from local residents. While some are just pleased to see the building back in use after months of closure, others are unhappy,

THE NEW-look St Albans Town Hall with a tea and coffee house operating from the front of the building has drawn mixed reactions from local residents.

While some are just pleased to see the building back in use after months of closure, others are unhappy, particularly with the interior of the coffee shop.

It is being run by the Merchant Tea and Coffee Company as its first café in this country and is set to be its flagship.

It arrival has been welcomed by district councillor Jack Pia who was one of the first people to sit outside and have his early-morning coffee when it opened.

He described the nameplate above the entrance on the front of the Town Hall as, "very well done with a glow around the letters" and was particularly pleased to see the tables and chairs outside.

Cllr Pia said he had been keen for something to happen at the Town Hall for a long time and remembered when it was a courtroom. He added: "It is a good news story for the town."

But St Albans Civic Society chairman, Peter Trevelyan, said the council's fine restoration project at the Town Hall was spoilt by the interior fittings which he maintained were inappropriate.

He described the dark brown stained wood inside as, "a dull and depressing note against the refreshing warm cream and pastel shades of walls and ceiling". And he suggested a trip to Café Rouge in Holywell Hill as an example of how to fit a modern interior into a listed building.

Blob* The newly-refurbished public toilets at the Town Hall were closed at the weekend for essential maintenance works.

Like the Town Hall they had been shut for many months but had reopened to the public in early February.

Since then they have closed on a number of occasions causing plenty of inconvenience for shoppers and visitors.

St Albans resident Peter Wares said the situation was exacerbated by the fact that users were unable to report problems because there was no customer care contact number in the toilets. There was also no information about the whereabouts of the nearest alternative toilets.

He said: "Having written numerous letters regarding the poor service of customer care given to those needing to use these facilities, I am pleased to note that there are now some signs of improvement being made within the city centre."

A spokesperson for the district council said the closures were due to drainage problems specifically with the main sewers in Chequer Street. But all the drains had now been flushed through.

He pointed out that it was difficult for the council to put up signs if the toilets were closed because the Town Hall was a Grade II listed building and restrictions applied to what went on it.

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