A BRASS band has bought a community hall and is prepared to spend £40,000 doing it up.

The Thundersley Brass Band has paid an undisclosed sum to Castle Point Council to buy Richmond Hall, in Richmond Avenue, Benfleet.

The hall will remain open to the public, with the award-winning band committed to honouring existing arrangements between the council and community groups.

Delighted band chairman Norman Smith said: “The hall is now officially ours, which is good news.

“It’s never going to make serious money, but for the band it’s nice to have our own facility.

“We’re all very keen to get going and start bringing the hall up to modern standards.”

Mr Smith, who plays euphonium in the band, is also the councillor responsible for regeneration and economic development.

But he insists the arrangement is all above board.

He said: “The fact I wear two hats, cabinet member and chairman of the band, is not important. We went through due process.”

The award-winning band, who recently beat off competition from 13 other bands from across the country to win the SCABA Autumn contests, in Folkestone, funded the purchase with the help of a £50,000 grant from the Veolia Es Cleanaway Pitsea Marshes Trust.

A fifth of the cash went directly towards the purchase, with the rest of the cost covered by the band’s own cash and a mortgage.

The remaining £40,000 is set to be ploughed into improving the building, which has not undergone any modernisation since it was built 20 years ago.

Once work is complete, the band hopes to run an academy to teach young people, alongside letting the hall out for public use.

Mr Smith added: “There will be no difference in the community to what happened in the past.

“We have made a commitment that there will be no hikes in prices to existing users.”

Castle Point Council is looking for other community groups to take on halls in the borough, as part of a policy which it hopes will lead to investment in such buildings.

To book the Thundersley Brass Band’s hall, call 01268 692444.