Conservative club could be faced with closure

PUBLISHED: 16:33 06 February 2008 | UPDATED: 21:22 31 May 2010

A CLUB that has been in the town for over a century is facing a financial crisis and could soon be closed. The Saffron Walden Conservative Club, based on Museum Street, will be shut by April unless it can start making more money. Chairman Roy Withers said

A CLUB that has been in the town for over a century is facing a financial crisis and could soon be closed.

The Saffron Walden Conservative Club, based on Museum Street, will be shut by April unless it can start making more money.

Chairman Roy Withers said: "It's costing us more money to keep the club going than we are bringing in. It will be a huge loss to Saffron Walden if we have to close; the club has a long history with the town and all the people involved with the club are really friendly.

"We can't cover our overheads and it is expensive to keep the bar and the kitchens running, as well as paying for the upkeep of the building.

"We have run out of money - at the moment we are walking around with a bread basket."

An emergency meeting will be held on Friday February 15 to discuss ways to keep the club solvent, but Mr Withers admitted it did not look likely.

Despite having more than 400 members on its books, who pay an annual subscription, the club does not generate enough money from members using their facilities.

"The number of people who use the club has really declined, and we don't know why," said Mr Withers. "We have a building in excellent condition, which has been recently refurbished, with a horseshoe bar and a main room that is ideal for weddings and birthday parties. We want more people to become members, but we also need the members to use the club."

Since the club was required to carry out expensive soundproofing work to its premises 18 months ago, its savings have been wiped out. "While the work was being done we couldn't hold discos or other big events, so we couldn't make any money," said Mr Withers.

Although the club does have connections with the Association of Conservative Clubs, Mr Withers said that it was strictly a social club and not about politics. He added that many members had suggested changing the name to the Saffron Walden Social Club to encourage more people to join up.

After the club's financial situation was revealed to its members, people came forward to join the committee and give their time, voluntarily, to help run the group. "There certainly is a desire within the club to keep it going," said Mr Withers. "And it would be a tragedy if we had to close - we are the only social club in Saffron Walden.

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