Row over plan for village hall

PUBLISHED: 11:47 29 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:43 06 May 2010

Headteacher Teresa Leavy in the school hall

Headteacher Teresa Leavy in the school hall

A headteacher has slammed a parish council for claiming that her school hall had been condemned. Walkern Parish Council hopes to develop Walkern Sports and Recreation Club into a village hall and parish council offices in a move that has angered club mem

A headteacher has slammed a parish council for claiming that her school hall had been condemned.

Walkern Parish Council hopes to develop Walkern Sports and Recreation Club into a village hall and parish council offices in a move that has angered club members.

And one of its main reasons for the proposed move, according to the council chairman, is because the school hall, where it currently meets, is condemned.

Worried parents contacted headteacher Teresa Leavy after the comments of the council were aired last week. But the headteacher says the hall was recently refurbished. She said: "It's a total inaccuracy. The school hall is definitely not condemned. I'm concerned my parents - or other parents - reading this will think it is.

"It is used by the parish council, guides and brownies and rainbows, for WI meetings and the over 60s hold their dinners at the school."

She cannot understand why the council would rather spend money building a new village hall, which would cost sports members their clubs, rather than put money into the school hall that is already in use by the community.

She added: "I would very much like our school hall to stay part of the community. They have estimated a new hall would cost £750,000 but the parish council will only put a small amount of money into the pot."

The school hall issue was brought up at a meeting held at Walkern Sports and Recreation Club on Sunday, organised by campaigners against the plan for a village hall. The parish council admitted that the school hall was not actually condemned after the head of school governors made a heated speech.

Val Agnew, development manager for Stevenage Borough Vixens, which will have to disband if the redevelopment plan goes ahead, was present at the meeting.

She added: "It was daft. When the chairman, Adrian Vickers, was asked how many people had come to the decision he turned round to the parish council and asked, 'How many parish councillors do we have?'

"Quite a lot of the villagers turned up and put the parish council to shame. I think it opened their eyes to how strongly the village felt.

"And I think it opened their eyes to the fact that there isn't a lot of money to be made on the place and we would lose all our funding from other areas so they would have to pay for it.

"You can't charge £8000 here because none of us can stay if that's the case."

She added: "I also don't think all the villagers were aware of all the stuff we have got going on at the club as well, like aspiring young athletes who need funding to compete.

"And this Friday we have a youth disco in conjunction with police youth services."

Chairman of Walkern Parish Council Adrian Vickers said that he had been told a long time ago that the hall was condemned, but actually it had just been out of use for a period while it was being refurbished.

He said: "There are too many things that could happen in the future.

We don't want to be the only village in Hertfordshire without a village hall.

"As we finished the meeting I spoke with Dave Barber, chairman of Walkern Sports and Social Club, and we are going to make an effort and put our heads together and come up with a solution that suits us both."


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