Aberdeenshire Council has announced it is closing five town halls.
Banff Town Hall, the St Laurence Hall in Laurencekirk and the Beach Pavilion in Stonehaven have all been deemed “surplus to requirements” and will close unless a community groups or another organisation are able to take on the running of the facilities.
Corse Hall and Kinnoir Hall – both of which have been shut for a number of years – will also be formally closed.
It means the local authority is reducing the number of halls under its control from 18 to 13.
Explaining the decision, it said that in Banff, the Deveron community and sports centre provided similar facilities to the town hall.
In Laurencekirk hall users can be accommodated at the Mearns Academy community campus and in Stonehaven the storm damage sustained by the Beach Pavilion meant a good deal of investment would have been required to bring it back up to standard, it said.
Ian Hardie, secretary of horticultural group Banff in Bloom who recently erected a polytunnel in the garden at the back of Banff Town Hall, was disappointed with the news.
He said: “I’m shocked to hear about this and it’s a disaster for Banff In Bloom because we have a big polytunnel there that we use to produce hanging baskets.
“It will be a blow for us if we do not have that facility.”
Ritchie Johnston, Aberdeenshire Council’s director of business services, said: “It is important that we have a strategy based on what is sustainable, affordable and of best value to the communities.”
The authority also announced that it will be investing in Inverurie Town Hall, Fraserburgh’s Dalrymple Hall, Stewarts Hall in Huntly, Stonehaven Town Hall, Banchory Town Hall and Macduff Town Hall.
And the aurthority will be exploring how to increase the use of halls in Portsoy, Rosehearty, Lumphanan and Torphins.
The investment in Dalrymple Hall was welcomed by secretary of Fraserburgh Community Council, David Donn.
He said: “We are delighted that the much needed renovation of the Dalrymple Hall is going ahead.
“The hall, as well as being Fraserburgh’s town hall, is one of Aberdeenshire’s best known arts centres.”