Fresh hope for Jubilee Hall
- Credit: Bill Smith - Archant
The Royal British Legion's Jubilee Hall in Norwich has been granted a stay of execution, after it was announced that it would be closing on January 1.
Campaigners have been fighting to save the hall since its closure was announced earlier in the year.
Legion bosses believe keeping the Aylsham Road club open would pose an 'unacceptable risk' to charitable funds.
Negotiations over a sale or lease option of the hall broke down between Legion bosses and campaigners last week, and city businessman Martin Wyatt, who was leading the talks, said he was too shattered to fight on.
He said the hall would close on January 1, as the branch could no longer continue to operate it, as they could not afford the monthly outgoings.
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But Mile Cross city councillors have applied to Norwich City Council to get the social club listed as an asset of community value, under the Localism Act, which would give campaigners fighting to save it a six-month breathing space before it could be sold.
And Hugh Phillips, the Legion's head of clubs and trusts, said yesterday: 'This means that, provided that the local authority agrees to the registration of the property as a 'community asset', then we will need to continue to hold the Jubilee Hall for a further, say seven-and-a-half months.'
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Mr Phillips has agreed to meet Norwich branch chairman Steph Talbot at the hall on January 2 to discuss how this can be managed.
Mrs Talbot said: 'Jubilee Hall does not close on January 1; it will remain open for a further six to seven months but we will not have any details concerning this change of fortunes until early in the new year when we meet head office.'
Meanwhile, the insecurity over the hall's future has led many regulars to move elsewhere.
Campaigners had hoped that Legion bosses would accept a plan for a proposed Norwich Jubilee Hall Trust to buy the hall and for Mr Wyatt to sponsor it. Campaigners wanted the Legion to allow the trust a six-month grace period to run and look after the hall to kick-start the project.
But Legion bosses wanted to sell the property on the open market, to maximise its value.
Do you think campaigners should be given more time to save the hall? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, Evening News, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email firstname.lastname@example.org