Belfast Telegraph

Belfast City Hall’s £28k reception to be replaced – less than a year after it was installed

By Andrew Madden, local democracy reporter

Belfast City Hall is getting a new reception area – less than a year after ratepayers footed the £28k bill for the building’s current welcome counter.

At a Planning Committee last week, the council put forward plans for a new “combined reception and memorabilia exhibition” area in the foyer of City Hall.

Some councillors questioned the plans, as construction on a reception area, including display cabinets, was only completed in July last year.

Although there was debate about “paying for the same job twice”, as one councillor put it, the plans were later granted approval.

It has now emerged that the construction and installation of the current reception area at City Hall, located to the right rear of the foyer, cost ratepayers almost £30,000.

“The specific cost of the current reception area was £28,500,” a council spokesperson said.

“This included for removal of the old desk; the manufacture, supply and installation of the new desk, display cabinets, works to the floor and associated works.”

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Conceptual image of the new reception area. Credit: Andrew Madden

Council officers said the current placement of the reception area is not ideal and it would be more effective and noticeable if it was moved to the left of the foyer, close to the main entrance.

“Belfast City Council Property and Projects Management propose that the desk be located as a first point of contact in a convenient position within the rotunda/main entrance and be accessible by all members of the public,” council documents state.

“By positioning the merchandising stands nearby all visitors can view freely and be greeted by staff at the desk for any information they may require. The desk will be occupied daily by Belfast City Council staff providing information and a service to the general public.”

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Belfast City Hall reception. Credit: Andrew Madden

The plans will see the existing reception and display cabinets removed to create a new desk to combine both functions across the foyer, close to City Hall’s Lavery Room, where committee meetings take place.

At last week’s committee meeting, Sinn Fein’s JJ Magee was sceptical of the plans, questioning having the public “pay for the same job twice”.

PUP councillor Billy Hutchinson, however, agreed that the location of the current reception area is too small and not fit for purpose.

“If you didn’t know about it, you would even know it’s there,” he added.

“It’s hidden away - I know of [one councillor], who forgot about it being installed last summer and tripped over it.”

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