Dozens left jobless after venue announces sudden closure

THE owners of a popular wedding and party venue have suddenly announced that they are to shut the business, leaving dozens of staff without a job and people without a venue for their weddings and Christmas parties.

The Node in Codicote, which is owned by Chartridge - the same company that owns Hitchin’s Priory - will close at the end of this month.

The building and the 28 acres of land which accompanies it has already been sold to a company, with the likelihood that it will be turned into houses.

An employee at The Node, who did not wish to be identified, said that staff were only told on Monday about the closure, and had been left to pick up all the pieces.

She told The Comet: “We were told it would close, and now all the staff have been made redundant. There’s one woman who’s worked there for 31 years, but because she’s employed on a casual basis, she won’t get anything.

“There are already 18 weddings booked, including one in December, and lots of Christmas parties too. All these brides will be so disappointed.

“It was left to the general manager to cancel all the appointments, he’s the one having to put up with all the shouting and anger. It may even be too late for some.

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“The owners just don’t care. They’re not bothered about us.”

There are approximately 25 staff employed on a contracted basis at the centre, which is also used for conferences and as a hotel.

The 19th century country house is not believed to be listed, meaning that it could potentially be knocked down.

The employee added: “It seems awful that this lovely land could all be built on - it’s a beautiful setting and that could just all be ruined.

“I’ve written to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), who are trying to get more information.”

Peter Darnell, managing director of Chartridge, said: “We received an unsolicited expression of interest for our conference centre The Node, which developed into a firm offer very recently.

“Contracts were exchanged late last Friday and our employees were informed on Monday. Clients have been contacted this week with the majority being able to be offered space at our Hitchin Priory venue just a few miles away.”

* Are you one of the people that has been let down by the closure? Contact the newsdesk by emailing editorial@thecomet.net

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