Black Horse Drove Residents Celebrating After Public Building Is Saved

PUBLISHED: 09:41 10 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:46 04 May 2010

A RURAL hamlet community is celebrating the saving of its public building. Black Horse Drove residents protested when the county council announced it was putting the building up for sale more than 18months ago, but after a lengthy campaign, supported by

A RURAL hamlet community is celebrating the saving of its public building.

Black Horse Drove residents protested when the county council announced it was putting the building up for sale more than 18months ago, but after a lengthy campaign, supported by district councillors for the Littleport area, funding has been found to buy the centre back for the community it serves.

The county council finally agreed a reduced sale price of just £55,000- money which will be put up by East Cambs District Council. It is hoped the parish council will take ownership of the building, and leave the day-to-day running of the centre to its existing committee.

Derek Timbers, committee chairman, was delighted at the news.

"There is going to be a lot of work to do to get it up to legislation standard - it is going to need a complete refurbishment," he said. "But we had a meeting with the parish council a few weeks ago and about 20 people were there. That's about 10 per cent of the population of Black Horse Drove - so people are enthusiastic about it, and I think they will use it once we get it up and running."

The centre, which can house up to 100 people, was regularly used for quiz and bingo nights until it lost its entertainment licence for not complying with Disability Act legislation.

"It was a downward spiral from there," said Mr Timbers. "It seems like such a large amount of money to spend for such a small community, but every community deserves a community hall, to use and when they need it. Littleport is only three and a half miles away, but for families that might want to have a birthday party for their kids, its easier if they can use the hall down the road."

Officials had asked for £80,000 for the small centre - for which they are obliged to get "best value," but amid the economic downturn, negotiations with the parish council led to the price being dropped by £25,000.

"The centre wouldn't have been suitable for development anyway," said Mr Timbers.

Black Horse Drove Community Centre committee now needs to find money to refurbish its facility - and will consider applying for grants once agreements are finalised with county and parish councils.

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