‘An unholy mess’: social club reopens despite legal challenge from community centre
PUBLISHED: 06:56 20 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:11 20 July 2020
A village social club has re-opened for the first time since lockdown despite being warned by the community centre which hosts it that it must disband.
Caister Social Club re-opened to members on Monday, July 13, with Chairman Ray Banwell hailing the night a “huge success”.
But the re-opening follows further disputes between the social club and Caister Community Association (CCA) - with the latter giving the club a date to pay outstanding fees and vacate the premises or face potential legal action.
The groups are separate entities, and the CCA has claimed the social club is insolvent after the fallout of coronavirus and must dissolve in order to protect the charity’s assets.
However, it has said it is not aware of any legal “row” with the social club.
It said: “The club has been asked to pay money owed and given notice that the space they hired will no longer be available to them after a two-month notice.
“If the club would like to engage the services of a solicitor to explain this to them, it could hasten the centre re-opening to the public.”
Nevertheless, tension between the two entities is growing - with the social club hosting a meeting of CCA members on Friday, July 10, to elect seven new CCA trustee members to add to the five members currently on the board.
Club chairman Mr Banwell said the meeting was designed to re-instate a “functioning committee” after decisions made by the currently “non-quorate” committee were “illegitimate”.
Mr Banwell said: “As far as the social club is concerned, these new trustees, voted in by around 150 members of the charity, are perfectly legitimate members on the CCA committee. We asked them if the social club could re-open on Monday after the meeting on Friday, and they said yes - so we opened in line with the advice the seven new trustees issued to us.”
But the current CCA committee declared the vote “void” and published a statement in response.
The chair of the CCA, Louise Marriott, said: “I and my committee hope this clarifies this issue of ‘voting’. Any vote taken is null and void and has no effect on the legitimate CCA committee.
“We have many positive plans going forward and trust we have the village’s support when the time comes that the Caister Community Centre is able to fully open again.”
The centre also added in a Facebook post that it was “fake news” to suggest the club managed Caister Community Centre or had the power to exclusively vote in new trustees when they “have only ever rented 18 inches around the bar and the cellar/storage space”.
After the meeting, the CCA committee as it existed before the vote published a solicitor’s letter explaining the relationship between the club and association on Facebook.
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It said: “The club has no authority over the association or its property and so the club’s meeting on July 10 will have no legal effect. The club owes the Association in excess of £40,000 and the management committee has a collective legal duty to protect the assets of the association.”
Mr Banwell, however, said the CCA’s constitution outlined the social club must pay money owed by October 31, not before - and so disputed that the payments they owed were “overdue”.
He said: “The vote taken on Friday was by CCA members, who, according to the constitution as we interpret it, have the final say. The vote should therefore stand and we implore the rest of the CCA committee to accept it.
“This thing is an unholy mess, and since it’s becoming increasingly clear the dispute will only be resolved through civil arbitration, we’ve hired a solicitor.”
In a statement posted to Facebook, the social club said: “This matter will not be decided on Facebook, the Yarmouth Mercury or any other media platform. It will be settled in a civil court.”
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