Step forward for bid to bring community centre to Worlingham

HOPES are high that a village believed to be the largest in Suffolk without a community centre, pub or meeting room could soon have one to call its own.

Approaching 100 people descended on Worlingham Primary School, near Beccles, yesterday as villagers and groups registered their interest in a plan to turn the soon to be redundant school into a hub for the community.

Now the steering group behind the bid will compile their business plan as they appeal for Suffolk County Council to support their efforts.

The drop-in event was organised by the group as a way of showing the council how much the village wanted to use the school when it moves to the site of Worlingham Middle School as part of Suffolk's School Organisational Review.

The group appealed for individuals and groups to state their intentions for the potential centre through an ideas board, survey and letter of intent.


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Steering group chair Wendy Summerfield said they had been pleased with the turnout.

'It is very positive. We're just so happy to see people providing their suggestions as if it is going to be a community facility, we want the community to use it how they want.'

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Among the ideas were computer lessons for those aged 60 and over, indoor bowls, cake making classes, a social club, adult education classes, a drop-in centre, gym and coffee shop.

One group strongly in support of the bid is the nearby All Saints Church.

Daphne Field, church warden, said: 'Ever since the church hall unfortunately closed down there has been nowhere for people to meet.

'It would be good to get the community together again in Worlingham.'

Existing clubs also pledged to use the centre, while commercial ideas were encouraged to make it economically viable.

Steering group member Ed Hubbard said: 'We want to be prepared to present all of the information to Suffolk County Council to say that Worlingham is overwhelmingly in favour of a community centre.'

When the church hall closed in 2008 it left the village without a community meeting place.

A parish plan, which was conducted in 2009, showed a great desire for a community venue, with 1,346 people of the 1,762 replies wanting a village hall and 1,006 wanting a pub.

Worlingham Middle School is due to close in July and it is expected that the primary school will move there early 2013, leaving the site empty.

Suffolk County Council will decide on the future of the building, but has said that it will be keen to explore options for community groups to take on and use part or all of the site.

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