December 5 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Fresh hope has been raised that the Royal British Legion’s Jubilee Hall in Norwich can still be saved.
Mile Cross city councillors are trying to get the social club listed as an asset of community value, which would give campaigners fighting to save it a six-month breathing space before it could be sold.
The Aylsham Road centre is threatened with closure in the new year because legion bosses have decided that keeping it open would pose an “unacceptable risk” to charitable funds.
But campaigners have vowed to save the building and a parliamentary debate called by Norwich North MP Chloe Smith was held at Westminster Hall this week.
At the debate, the minister for civil society, Nick Hurd warned that the legion must “go the extra mile” to help Norwich safeguard the hall.
Miss Smith is also due to meet the legion’s director general later this month.
The three Labour city councillors for Mile Cross attended a public meeting at the hall last week, where members gave their overwhelming backing to plans to form a charitable trust to save it.
City councillor Ralph Gayton said: “We are now pursuing getting it listed as a community asset under the Localism Act, and it’s going forward to the city council to get it approved. Once it is approved, my understanding is that the building cannot be sold or the hall closed for six months. This would give the people there the necessary time to get it sorted.”
As reported, businessman Martin Wyatt wants to lease the club from the charity, through a charitable trust, and has written to bosses calling for a fair deal on the rent.
He has suggested the possibility of a peppercorn rent, as the hall was built with local funds and they intend to maintain it for its original purpose and to fully encompass the community.
Mr Wyatt is the conductor of St Gregory’s Orchestra, which is giving a concert at the hall at 7.30pm on Thursday, October 31, to launch the Norwich Poppy Appeal Week.
He said: “Apart from being a fund-raiser for the Poppy Appeal, this will also inaugurate an orchestral series at Jubilee Hall, widening the appeal of this community and veteran base. And, frankly, that’s the reason why I got involved in the whole saga in the first place.”
The Norwich Evening News has been backing the efforts to retain the club through the Save Our Jubilee Hall campaign.
Earlier this week, Kate Williams, legion area manager for East Anglia, said they were negotiating with several prospective tenants for the hall.