December 6 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Campaigners fighting to save the Royal British Legion’s (RBL) Jubilee Hall in Norwich have been given more time to sort it out by Legion bosses.
Norwich North MP Chloe Smith has been trying to save the hall from closure, and spoke to the Legion’s director general Chris Simpkins yesterday.
The Aylsham Road centre is threatened with closure in the new year because Legion bosses have decided that keeping it open would pose an “unacceptable risk” to charitable funds. But campaigners have vowed to save the building and city businessman Martin Wyatt wants to lease the club from the charity, through a charitable trust.
A parliamentary debate called by Miss Smith was held at Westminster Hall last week, and she arranged to meet Mr Simpkins in London yesterday. Because of the storm he was stuck at home and unavailable to meet her, but after their phone conversation, Miss Smith said: “I would describe it as a cautiously hopeful discussion. Mr Simpkins said Mr Wyatt’s proposal seemed to be a ‘win/win’ situation, if it could be made to work. And he said he was prepared to give the local branch time to make it work.
“He said he would not take precipitous action, which I think was positive. He said constructive negotiations were now needed.
“He referred to the Jubilee Hall’s astonishing popularity as a community venue, but he echoed my call for the focus now to be on the Poppy Appeal in Norwich, which began last week.
“He said the Poppy Appeal raised a third of the Legion’s annual income.”
Miss Smith said she would send him a petition containing 617 signatures from Norwich RBL supporters, calling on him to retain the hall for use by members and other users.