Council apologises for confusion after Panshanger Community Centre closure

PUBLISHED: 17:20 09 May 2018

Samurai Martial Arts Ju Jitsu Club is one of many that use the hall. Picture: Rachel Ellis

Samurai Martial Arts Ju Jitsu Club is one of many that use the hall. Picture: Rachel Ellis

Archant

Welwyn Hatfield Council has apologised after the sudden closure of Panshanger Community Centre caused uproar in the community.

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

A message on its website said the venue was used by Panshanger Church on Sunday – with all its activities now running as normal – and said all other hirers have been contacted.

Portfolio holder for resources, Cllr Duncan Bell, said: “We are really pleased to see this valuable community facility open once more.

“It has been a turbulent week and we are very sorry for the frustration and confusion the unexpected closure caused.

“I urge hirers to get in touch with us as soon as possible; our priority is to help them continue their activity programmes at the centre, or through other local facilities.”

Facility users were left furious after the hall locks were changed and all activities cancelled last week – sparking a protest outside the facility.

The closure followed a lengthy legal row over rent with Panshanger Community Hall Trust Ltd, which ended in court and caused the charity to dissolve.

The council said it will be running the facility until a lease agreement is put in place with a new organisation to manage the building longer-term.

However, many residents voiced fears over how the council’s rent demands may have a knock-on effect for them.

Cllr Bell said: “The council will not be increasing the rates for hirers, although we have no control over hire rates when a new operator takes over the building.”

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