THE start of efforts to re-open Alcester’s neglected Greig Memorial Hall have begun with the launch of a charity shop in the town to raise cash for the project.
The whole Greig Hall site is currently tied up in a legal wrangle between the hall trustees and Stratford District Council after the council announced its intention to take over and run the site back in the summer.
The council claims that the leisure facilities at the site are not being run effectively by the trustees. The trustees dispute this and have mounted a legal challenge to the council’s plans.
A county court hearing into the issue is due to be held some time after 4th January, but if the judge rules in favour of the district council, then the council would run the leisure centre at the site and the Memorial Hall would be offered to Alcester Town Council to run.
In order not to let the situation stagnate, the Friends of the Greig Hall, opened their own charity shop in Alcester earlier this month, with the intention of raising an initial £5,000 towards any future re-opening.
Sheilagh Goode, of the Friends of the Greig Hall, said: “It’s a bit difficult because the whole thing is tied up in a bit of a legal battle at the moment between the Greig trustees and the district council but hopefully we will be able to make some progress in the New Year.
“The plan is that the [district] council will take over running the leisure facilities and the hall itself will be offered to the community through the town council. What we want to do is raise a bit of money so if that happens, we will be in a position to move forward and apply for grants to re-open it.
“The Friends have visited the hall in the past year and we were quite surprised what a good condition it was in, obviously there are a few smashed windows on the outside, but inside it’s not too bad at all. There have been large figures quoted to get it up and running again, we’ve been told there are problems with the heating and electrics, but we’ve been working with a surveyor who informs us it would actually cost a lot less than what is being talked about.
“This beautiful hall has been neglected for far too long and it would be great if we could have a large venue in Alcester again, it’s got one of the last spring dance floors in the country. It would make a great venue for dance performances, tribute bands, wrestling, pantomimes and all sorts, there’s so much potential there.
“I believe re-opening the Greig Hall would bring the whole community together.
“Our new charity shop in Hopkins Precinct opened last week and has so far been very successful, we’re aiming to raise £5,000 and we’ve got the unit for three months and hopefully longer. We sell good quality furniture and household goods. Any donations we receive are really appreciated.”
Cllr Mike Gittus, who sits on both Alcester Town Council and Stratford District Council, said: “Alcester Town Council are keen to participate and head up the future of the memorial hall, but we don’t have that amount of capital so there needs to be support from the community to bring it back into use. We welcome the efforts being put in by the Friends of the Greig Hall.
“The fact is that village halls, and essentially the Memorial Hall is a big village hall, don’t make money, they require this continued support from the community.”
A spokesperson for Stratford District Council said: “Following termination of the relevant agreements and because the grant monies have not been repaid, the District Council is enforcing its charge over the Greig Hall site in the County Court and is seeking possession of the site in order to retake control. Those proceedings are progressing and a hearing is scheduled to take place in January. Until the court action is concluded, ownership of the site has not changed.”