Angry protests outside Panshanger Community Centre after sudden closure

PUBLISHED: 11:53 03 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:07 03 May 2018

Protesters outside Panshanger Community Centre. Picture: Rachel Ellis.

Protesters outside Panshanger Community Centre. Picture: Rachel Ellis.

Archant

Dozens of angry residents descended on Panshanger Community Centre after the hall was unexpectedly closed.

The protest turned into a meeting inside the hall. Picture: Rachel EllisThe protest turned into a meeting inside the hall. Picture: Rachel Ellis

Facility users gathered in protest outside the Hardings-based centre on Tuesday after the locks were changed and all activities cancelled this week.

Over 50 people put on a united front – which eventually turned into a meeting inside the premises after councillors turned up and opened the doors.

Following the meeting, School 4 Dogs owner Gill Johnson told the WHT: “I walked away very disillusioned with the way it was handled and the lack of respect for everyone.

“I was disillusioned that there was no communication with anyone. We are all still in limbo, we don’t know whether to all go and get another premises or not.”

Protesters outside Panshanger Community Centre. Picture: Rachel Ellis.Protesters outside Panshanger Community Centre. Picture: Rachel Ellis.

The sudden closure followed a long-running rent row between the council and Panshanger Community Hall Trust Ltd, which caused the charity to dissolve.

Kate Whiteland, who runs pilates classes at the venue, said: “I’m frustrated and angry because I don’t trust how quickly they are going to sort it.”

A borough council spokeswoman previously confirmed it is “actively working with an organisation” which has expressed interest in managing the property, adding: “We will do everything we can to ensure all users can continue running their activities at this facility.”

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