Church challenge

PUBLISHED: 13:32 01 March 2007 | UPDATED: 13:51 04 May 2010

From left, Jacky Hibbert, Jaeden and Julie Webb protest against the sale of the church hall

From left, Jacky Hibbert, Jaeden and Julie Webb protest against the sale of the church hall

CAMPAIGNER Liz Jugg, who is rallying support to save Soham s parish hall, has challenged church officials to sell historic Grade I listed St Andrew s Church if they cannot afford its upkeep. She claims that rather than sell the hall to raise cash towards

Daniel Jugg, aged four, with this protest banner - Pics: Helen Drake

CAMPAIGNER Liz Jugg, who is rallying support to save Soham's parish hall, has challenged church officials to sell historic Grade I listed St Andrew's Church if they cannot afford its upkeep.

She claims that rather than sell the hall to raise cash towards the £600,000 church repair bill, the Parochial Church Council should find a buyer for the church and lease it back.

"The church is a business like any other," she said.

"If a business couldn't afford the upkeep of its building, it would sell it. What other business would get away with pleading poverty like the church?

"We are God-fearing people, but the church wonders why it has dwindling congregations when it is supposed to be at the heart of the community.

Mrs Jugg's comments came after dozens of protesters waving banners joined a march from Red Lion Square in Soham to the vicarage on Saturday to lodge their objections to the parish hall sale.

More than 2,000 campaigners have also signed a petition calling for the High Street site to be saved from housing and preserved for the community.

"People are starting to be more assertive," added Mrs Jugg. "It feels worse because it is the church. But if it were any other organisation we would be doing the same.

"If they want to be at the heart of the community they should lead by example.

"It was the church that said money is the route of all evil."

St Andrew's churchwarden, Chris Palmer, said: "The people who are complaining haven't come to us with any other ideas. None of them have come to the church and tried to discuss anything.

"We want the money to do up the church. We almost had to close the church last year because of the roof. We cannot go round and rattle a tin because the roof needs repairing. The parish hall site is the only asset we have.

"It has been up for sale for 20 years and, until now, no-one has come along and complained.

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