WORK could start on Huntingdon’s dilapidated Town Hall shortly if the final budget proposals for the project are approved by councillors this month.

Detailed costs for the work are expected to go before the town hall project management board next week. A special meeting of Huntingdon Town Council’s finance committee will then be held before the all-clear is given to preferred contractors Coulsons to begin work.

Huntingdon Town Counncillors were told that the cost of restoring the 18th building would not exceed £890,000 at a meeting earlier this month.

Essential repair work, including renewing the hall lighting, re-pointing the roof parapets and replacing the toilets, is needed before the building can be brought into use.

Plans are also in place to install a lift and transfer the town council offices into the hall, though proposals to create a cafe in the former court rooms of the hall have been abandoned for now.

But delays signing the contract could see work pushed back until May, which would leave town council office staff in limbo as the lease on the existing office runs out in March.

Town hall project management board chairman John Skerry said: “We are not letting the lease affect the town hall project, Lets not make a bad decision.

“But we are close to where we can make a decision. We will be getting the final figure at the end of this week.

“Being the building it is and the type of work it is not possible to get a fixed price for every element. For example, we do not know what state the timber in the roof is in.

“We have taken into account a certain amount of contingency. The £890,000 budget figure is the worst-case scenerio.”

The bulk of the project funding, £600,000, will come from former leaseholders the HM Courts Service.

A further £120,000 has been ring-fenced for the lift from the town council’s agreed capital programme and the rest of the money is expected to come from rental savings made through transferring the council offices.

Already £67,000 has been spent on design work for the project.