Efforts have started in earnest to re-open a church hall labelled “the beating heart of the community” by campaigners.
St Chad’s Church Hall is now closed to nearly 30 groups who regularly use the hall after £100,000 could not be raised to repair parts of the Vicarage Road venue.
The Concerned Residents of Poulton (CROP) pressure group held a party inside the hall in a last ditch bid to save the doors from closing.
But with the required funds unavailable, it has been left up to a Trust, founded by the community, to rescue the hall.
John Bailie, a spokesman for CROP, said: “Lengthy discussions have already taken place regarding the way forward, in particular the creation of a Trust and we are awaiting final clearance from the Diocese so we can form one.
“Hopefully we will receive this approval any moment and a Trust can be formed very soon, but certain procedures have to be followed.
“Dialogue with the vicar and the Diocese would be maintained, there must be co-operation here, in order that the community can have a real chance of moving this forward.
“This could be a classic restoration and expansion concept.
“This is the first option, to preserve and restore the current structure, remodel it and expand it.
“We have to do all this to preserve the beating heart of the town.”
Rev Martin Keighley, from St Chad’s Church, told The Gazette he would now be taking a step back to allow a Trust to be formed.
One of the hall’s main users, Chaddeans amateur dramatic society, has moved its wardrobe from the hall’s garage and put it into storage for the first time in its 40-year history.
Wendy Barnes, chairman of the society, said: “We’ve relocated our shows and rehearsals to Staining Village Hall which is not ideal because it’s not in Poulton, but there really isn’t a venue in Poulton big enough or appropriate for us.
“We feel it’s really important to keep focused as a group and keep going.
“Our view has always been this is not a permanent move and we’ve always thought that.”
Chaddeans will perform their Christmas show at 2pm and 7.30pm on December 1.
For information, call 07715027289.