War of words threatens future of village hall

Wednesday 19th August 2015 5:04 pm
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Hall committee chairman Marion Tucker and committee member Glyn Jordan outside the village hall ()

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LLANTILIO Pertholey’s village hall is in danger of closing over a row between its owners and managers.

The war of words between the two sides over the renewal of an expired lease is putting the popular venue - used by hundreds of people - in jeopardy.

A legal wrangle is looming as the disputants try to settle their differences over the signing of a new lease agreement.

Suggestions have been aired that the Ombudsman should be called in to make a judgement if the parties remain at loggerheads.

The village hall’s management committee is refusing to sign the document amid fears it might be illegal. They remain at odds with Llantilio Pertholey Community Council which owns the building.

Members of the village hall management committee say several people listed in the lease are either dead or have had no links to the hall for many years.

They want a brand new ten-year lease drawn up by solicitors to overcome doubts about the legality of the old one.

Matters have been made even more bothersome with hall managers asking the council to hand back their retired treasurer’s documents so a replacement officer can take responsibility for its financial affairs.

They maintain they are being ‘held to ransom’ after the community council chairman Geoff Cowan told them they can have the treasurer’s portfolio back if they sign the lease renewal.

Councillor Cowan and vice chairman Councillor Norma Watkins acquired the ‘books’ at a recent annual meeting where the management committee treasurer handed in his resignation.

Managers were happy for the two council members to have the books until such time as they could find a replacement.

One has since been found, but the files are not being returned as they desire.

Ridiculous

Management committee chairman Marion Tucker admitted, “It’s a ridiculous state of affairs. Up till 12 months ago there had never been any problems with the council.

“We need the books back. They are no use to the council. We are very upset about it all. We’ve always had a rapport with the council till now. We have bills which need to be paid.”

She fears that if the books are not handed back soon, the replacement treasurer lined up might walk away.

And she warned, “If matters are not resolved the hall may have to close - and no one will be able to use it.”

Council chairman Geoff Cowan said that if the committee did not sign the lease renewal - complete with amendments which they had already accepted - the management of the hall would revert to the council.

“The hall won’t close just because they might no longer be in existence,” he insisted.

He hoped the committee would sign up and then the treasurer issue could hopefully be overcome.

Mr Cowan insisted there was no problem with the lease the managers were complaining of.

“I’ve never heard of a tenant drawing up a tenancy agreement and forcing the landlord to sign it. It’s usually the other way round,” he argued.

He said any concerns about the names on the lease - dead or otherwise - were ‘irrelevant.’

The contentious matter was due to be discussed by the council at its meeting last night, (Wednesday) after the Chronicle went to press.

Mr Cowan said, “I hope everything can be sorted out. I don’t know how the discussions will go. We will see what happens.”

He said of the current divisions, “I think it’s very poor.”

John Fitzgerald, a community council representative on the hall management committee, admitted, “It’s a ridiculous situation - a real mess. If it cannot be settled the Ombudsman will be called in. We need to put things right.”

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