December 7 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Campaigners have written to the Queen in their fight to save the Royal British Legion’s club and headquarters in Aylsham Road in Norwich.
Bosses at the legion’s London HQ want to sell off the branch headquarters and close its thriving club, the Jubilee Hall, which is due to shut at the end of the year. They believe that keeping the premises “involves an unacceptable level of risk to charitable funds”.
But campaigners have vowed to fight to save the club and about 20 members of the branch have signed a letter sent to the private secretary to the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
The Queen is patron of the Royal British Legion, and the letter says that branch members “would like to share” with her their anxiety about the hall’s closure. The letter continues: “The Norwich branch has a particularly fine building, Jubilee Hall, which, crucially, was built with local funds. Its excellent facilities are used extensively, both by RBL members and by local community groups. Our intention is to challenge the threat of closure, as the hall is financially viable.”
It goes on: “We should like Her Majesty to be aware the people of Norwich are fighting for what their local branch has always meant to them: a social centre safeguarding the welfare, interests and memory of those who have served in the armed forces.”
One of the signatories to the letter is Martin Wyatt, a Norwich businessman, whose offer to sponsor the hall to keep it open and guarantee it against loss was last week declined.
However, campaigners have today been given a glimmer of hope that the club may still be saved, after the legion’s area manager for East Anglia and Essex, Kate Williams revealed that she was meeting Mr Wyatt on Monday, with all options still open.
She said: “I don’t want to pre-empt anything, but we are keeping an open mind, and we are enthusiastic and positive that all parties can reach a suitable outcome. The last thing we want to do is upset everybody.”
Norwich North MP Chloe Smith is set to meet the legion’s director general this month to discuss the site, and a public meeting will be held at the Aylsham Road club at 7pm on Thursday, October 17.