'You have no right to sell our hall', parish council warned
Community leaders behind a controversial village pavilion plan have been warned they have no right to sell off its existing community hub to help fund the project.
The intervention by a senior official of the Clenchwarton parish council, who says he has now resigned, has been seized upon by campaigners who are demanding a referendum on the issue.
The proposed pavilion in Hall Road is intended to provide changing areas for teams using the village’s football pitches, plus community facilities.
One option for partially funding the scheme is to sell off the existing Memorial Hall in Black Horse Road.
But an email seen by the Lynn News indicates that might be more complicated than previously thought.
In it, Kevin Puddephatt, the authority’s former responsible finance officer (RFO), said the council’s status as sole trustee of the hall meant it can run the hall, but does not own it.
He told the Lynn News: “To be able to sell the hall the parish council would need a very clear mandate from the community and the hall’s management committee to do so.
“Until they have this mandate, they have no authority to attempt any sale.”
Mr Puddephatt, who is the management committee’s treasurer, also confirmed he has resigned as RFO, blaming what he described as “derogatory” remarks made at a recent meeting.
His intervention represents the latest chapter of a row which has been rumbling on in the village for several months.
Last summer, the parish council pledged to carry out a village consultation on the pavilion project, following a review.
But the scheme has stalled since then amid internal parish council disputes, including threats of legal action, and fears among its opponents that a full range of options may not be put to residents.
Members of the Save The Memorial Hall group, which opposes the pavilion project, believe it will be too expensive for the village to proceed without selling the hall.
One of its members, Gillian Piggott, accused the council of not listening to the views of the village and says the time has now come for residents to have their say.
She said: “There should be a referendum of the whole village as to whether we even want our Memorial Hall included in or sold off in any development plans going forward.
“The whole pavilion project has been a fiasco. It’s been deplorably handled. Clenchwarton is entitled to something affordable that suits all sections of the community.”
The parish council has been approached for comment, but has so far failed to respond.
The situation is further complicated as the current planning permission for the new pavilion is due to expire at the end of April.
The consent granted in 2017 was extended last autumn, under rule changes brought in as part of the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
The Lynn News approached the parish council's project committee but were told they had no comment to make at this time.