Protest launched over delays to new Debden Village Hall
Residents in Debden staged a protest over delays to plans for a new village hall which could result in more than £300,000 of funding being lost - and no new building.
Parents, children, and members of a village football club came out in numbers on Sunday (October 30) with banners and signs to voice their concerns about the setback that could see the project fold.
Volunteers of the Debden New Village Hall Group and the Village Hall Trust, which manages the 100-year-old existing hall, have raised more than £300.000 - which is half the estimated cost for a new building.
However, the Debden Recreation Ground Trust, who manages the land, do not want to swap the site of the old hall, once demolished, for a piece of the car park at the site.
It is understood the recreation ground trust is keen for a new hall to be built on the old site, therefore keeping the car park and recreation ground as it is.
But the village hall group says this would be problematic for groups using the hall during building works and a new building could be more multi-purpose for weddings and functions in the new location.
As a result of the delay, the provider of the largest single contribution to the project of £236,000 has told village hall trustees that if the building does not get the go-ahead by the end of this year, the money will have to be handed back.
Village hall trustees have said if that happens, the remaining funds would be returned and the project would fold.
Mike Fairchild, chairman of the new village hall group, said: “The whole village is incredibly frustrated by the delay.
“We’ve challenged the legality of the recreation ground trust’s refusal to let the project go ahead, but two members have persuaded the majority that they are right.
“The opponents of the new hall project ignore the fact that the trust exists to serve not only the residents who want the hall, but the needs of future generations.
“That’s why it was great to see youngsters come out to support the volunteers who have worked so hard to get the project to this point.
“It is a pity that some of the recreation ground trustees don’t have the vision of the children of the village.”
Debden Parish Council says the matter has been deferred to the recreation ground trust, and neither body wished to comment.
There is a public meeting being held to discuss the project on Wednesday, November 9, at 7.30pm at Debden Village Hall.