Faults may mean demise of community hall

ONE of Felixstowe's oldest community buildings is set to be demolished – because it is facing a repair bill of tens of thousands of pounds.Walton Community Hall is facing structural faults which would cost around £40,000 to put right and also does not meet new disabled access laws, which would mean many thousands more being spent.

ONE of Felixstowe's oldest community buildings is set to be demolished - because it is facing a repair bill of tens of thousands of pounds.

Walton Community Hall is facing structural faults which would cost around £40,000 to put right and also does not meet new disabled access laws, which would mean many thousands more being spent.

The community association which has run the town council-owned property in Walton High Street has now given notice to quit and will hand over it tenancy next month.

The council is in the early stages of investigating a scheme to pull down the building and replace it with social housing and an improved community facility.

But former community association chairman and one of its founders, Sid Knight, 86, said it was very distressing to think the building would go.

"It's been a tremendous facility for Walton for many years and it is an enormous shame - Walton needs a community building for its events and clubs," he said.

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"I can understand the difficulty in putting in the access for disabled because the entrance to the building at the front and the side go straight out onto the street and there is no room for ramps.

"But if this venue goes, we really need to replace it with something new and modern for the people of this area."

Current association chairman Noel Smith said many of the associated organisations had already left the umbrella group and found new homes.

It used to be used by all ages - from playgroups to cubs and scouts to over 60s.

"It is a very difficult problem. We have spent more than £20,000 on the building in the past nine years to modernise it and meet regulations, but each time you finish a project there is something else to be done," he said.

"Raising money gets harder and harder because often when it is structural repairs or improvements people do not see a lot for all their hard work - not like when you add a new facility.

"The façade of the building is now unstable and we could not be legally responsible for that and so have decided to call it a day."

The town council's investigations found the front wall of the century-old building - once the town's Salvation Army Hall - is leaning outwards by more than four centimetres and something needs to be done urgently.

It is looking to team up with a housing association to see if a project similar to the one being carried out at the Old People's Day Centre would be possible.

n What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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