Blow for Legion hall hope

Hopes that a former Royal British Legion hall could become part of a new village centre for Lakenheath appear to have been dashed.

The hall, which was closed by the legion in 2012, and has stood empty for more than a year, now looks set to be turned into a restaurant 
because the community 
can’t afford its £120,000 price tag.

Trustees of the village’s other hall, the Peace Memorial Hall, had hoped to acquire the RBL hall and develop the two buildings into a new village centre equipped to meet the demands of the growing population.

Volunteers recruited as part of the People’s Project group, following a packed village meeting last September, applied for grants from various organisations including the Big Lottery Fund but without success, and despite raising around £4,000 locally and a promise of £10,000 from Lakenheath Parish Council, were still a long way short of their target.

The last resort appeared to be financial support from Forest Heath District Council but when the matter was raised as ‘urgent business’ at a council meeting last night members were told it “was not appropriate” for the authority to make a direct grant, but only to offer a £75,000 loan at 10 per cent interest because the council had ‘significant’ budgetary pressures of its own.

Brendan Fulham, one of the trustees of the Peace Memorial Hall, said: “Even if Forest Heath agreed to make the loan, we could not take it because we would not afford it.

“Time is running out for us as the hall will be sold on April 7. I am disappointed that Forest Heath could not do more to help particularly as the hall would be of so much benefit to the village.”

Lakenheath district councillor David Gathercole declined to comment.