New hall design plans will not mean the end of the Over 60s club, says Soham Town council

David Giles Clerk to Soham Council

David Giles Clerk to Soham Council - Credit: Archant

A club that has met for years at the Walter Gidney Pavilion believe they face an uncertain future if plans go ahead to split their meeting room in half.

Soham Pavilion

Soham Pavilion - Credit: Archant

But Soham Town Council insists the L-shaped room will still be big enough for Soham over 60s and Soham Community Care groups which they currently hire for £5 a session.

Council chairman Chris Palmer said the room needed separating to help make more hire money. The plans are yet to be approved.

Diane Wheeling is concerned it will mark and end for the clubs.

She said: “The two clubs offer a safe place for older people to meet and socialise.

“To some of our members it is the only time they meet and speak to other people during the week.

“The town council will condemn these folk to loneliness and deprive them of fellowship with others by the proposed changes.”

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Cllr Palmer said the new lay-out would still be big enough for the regular weekly meetings.

“It just means they will have to find a larger venue once or twice a year for their dinner events,” he said.

Council clerk David Giles said: “The council recognises the importance of the pavilion’s facilities to the Over 60’s and Community Care but, equally, it acknowledges that the existing building is extremely tired and needs improvements and modernisation.”

A large refurbishment was once considered but “unfortunately, it has not proved possible to raise sufficient funds to undertake all the work at one time and there will have to be a phased development.

“The most economic way to proceed is for the old pavilion to be renovated as a first phase, with the demolition work and new hall part of the development when more funds become available.

“Such works will mean short term inconvenience to those who currently hire the pavilion but in the longer term there will be enormous benefits.”

Councillor George Ginn said: “I was once a member of the working party for the refurbishment but I opted out in the last year.

“I am very disappointed that sufficient funding was not available at the present time to go for the overall plan.

“The council have still got to make the final decision as to whether we go ahead with this start. I would have made the start by just making the new roadway in to the pavilion and the roundabout plus the lighting along the roadway and leave the rest until the funding for the total is available.

“I quite agree with the feeling of the over 60’s.”