WELLESBOURNE parish council has pledged to save its village hall from closure, much to the relief of hundreds of people who use it.
The trustees of Walton Hall Estate, who own the hall, its neighbouring youth club and car park, told the council it requires more income from the site than the ‘peppercorn’ rent it currently receives - and on Tuesday the council voted to buy or rent the premises.
More than 100 people had packed the hall that evening, where a meeting to discuss its future had been called.
Speaking afterwards, parish council chairman Cllr David Johnston said: “I am very pleased with the outcome. We have been trying to acquire the village hall for three years.
“We will need to make sure that rents are comparable to those set elsewhere in village services. We want to ensure value for money.
“I really hope that this time we are able to come to a satisfactory conclusion and secure the hall for the needs of the village in the future.”
Parish councillor Geoff Blundall added: “The crucual thing is we need to retain the car park as well as the hall.
“It’s vital for the businesses in the village to have somewhere to park in the centre of the village.
“We could use the youth club for events and activities as well. The county council is due to close the club in April, but hopefully we can keep it running at the same building ourselves.”
Chris Cole, chairman of the village hall management committee, said: “It’s a fantastic result and it’s great that so many people turned out to support it. I have been the chairman for about ten years and the hall is getting more popular all the time.”
Among the groups to use the hall are a children’s creche, Zumba and Pilates sessions, an art group, history group and the Wellesbourne and Walton Horticultural Society, whose president Wendy Bryan said: “It’s a very well-used hall and there is nowhere else large enough in Wellesbourne that we could use.”
James Johnston, Walton Estate trustee and solicitor, said the trustees have asked the parish council to put forward a formal offer by the end of March.
He said: “The trustees have a legal obligation to generate a return from the property and are no longer able to provide it effectively free of charge.
“We are willing to negotiate with a body on behalf of the community and to do whatever we reasonably can to facilitate the purchase.”