A COMMUNITY building and theatre opened by the Queen Mother more than 45 years ago is under threat because of anti-social behaviour from local troublemakers.

The Brunton in Musselburgh regularly hosts classical music concerts, comedy and contemporary dance shows, as well as cinema screenings and live broadcasts from the National Theatre and Royal Opera House in London.

However, recurring incidents at the venue over the last 18 months involving fighting among youths, aggressive behaviour, fire-raising and damage to property has put it in danger.

East Lothian Council, which owns the building, has placed it on its risk register, as concern about trouble there remains.

And the council has warned that without additional measures the building could suffer devastating damage to its reputation, with some of its prized possessions also at risk.

The report warns that there is a “risk of reoccurring incidents of inappropriate and anti-social behaviour, damage to property, small fire outbreaks and security breaches”.

It adds that there is also a danger of “damage to buildings and contents, including irreplaceable heritage assets e.g. museum objects, paintings and/or all other assets held within the premises”.

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, opened The Brunton in 1971.

It was built using a bequest of £700,000 from local man John D Brunton to the people of the town, along with funds from the town council at the time to create the theatre, a cinema venue, hall and council offices.

Among measures recommended to safeguard its future are moving the town’s library into the building and considering the long-term impact of appointing a temporary caretaker in public access areas.

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said that the situation had improved since it was first highlighted.

They said: “It is important to stress that anti-social behaviour around The Brunton was first highlighted as an issue in 2016/17.

“Since then, there has been a significant reduction in the number of complaints in this area due to a number of measures being put in place, including additional caretaking staff, enhanced door security, staff training and collaboration with partners including Police Scotland in the form of a Problem Solving Partnership (PSP).

“The reduction of incidents has been so significant the PSP has not had to meet for some time.

“While we don’t consider this a current issue, it does remain on the risk register as a precaution as the register is there to help us monitor both real and potential risks.”

Chief Inspector Steven Duncan, local area commander for East Lothian, said: “Youth nuisance and related disorder around The Brunton has been an ongoing issue and something which we have been actively tackling with our partners.

“A PSP was set up and over the 12 months of its operation we worked closely with East Lothian Council to provide training, joint patrols and advice on measures the theatre could use to deter youths gathering. As a result of this, reports of anti-social behaviour fell considerably.

Monitor situation

“We continue to monitor the situation and local officers give the area passing attention during their patrols.”

Ward councillor John Williamson said: “Various measures have been implemented which have helped to address the problems, for example upgraded CCTV cameras and security doors.

“The last meeting of the PSP was held on July 17, when those present agreed that the PSP be ended as youth-related anti-social problems at The Brunton had abated.

“The PSP would be resuscitated should further problems recur.

“The PSP has done a great job in identifying the problem areas and working to stop any future incidents.

“I think that any public building could potentially be at risk from a number of factors and this is probably the reason the risk register has The Brunton as a medium risk with identified measures to reduce the risks as far as possible.”

Ward councillor Katie Mackie added: “The Brunton is an important venue not only for Musselburgh but all of East Lothian and Edinburgh.

“It’s really annoying when the selfish behaviour of a small minority spoils it for the majority. Clearly steps need to be taken to strengthen security arrangements.”

Irene Tait, chairwoman of Musselburgh & Inveresk Community Council, said: “The community council has always advocated that there should be two caretakers working evenings there as a safety precaution.

“This is a huge area to cover and they can look out for each other if anything turns nasty.”