Families' concern over future of hall
RESIDENTS fear a community hall could be demolished to make way for housing if it is sold at auction next month.
Birches Head Community Hall officially closed in July as part of moves by Stoke-on-Trent City Council to cut its subsidy for community centres by £62,000 this year.
The Addison Street building is due to go under the hammer at an auction at the Moat House Hotel, on Festival Park, on Monday, October 15, where it is thought the property could bring in at least £35,000.
But families living in the area are concerned that any buyer might want to demolish the 19th century building.
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Birches Head Road resident Elaine Middling, former secretary of the community hall committee, said: "When the hall officially closed in July we couldn't believe it had happened so quickly, even though it had been empty since about March.
"We have no community facilities left now. The only thing we have is the Bridge Centre but it is too far to walk for elderly people, especially with the winter coming soon."
Mrs Middling added: "If the hall is sold it could be knocked down.
"It is such a shame because it was built in the 1800s, but it's not listed so anything could happen to it and all the historic features and old beams could be lost."
Alf Barker, chairman of Birches Head Residents' Association, added: "The community hall was well-used by the general public and especially by young people .
"And the general consensus among the people of Birches Head is that we don't want to lose it.
"I know nothing has been confirmed yet but it is one thing to lose it as a community centre and another thing if we lose the entire building altogether."
Mr Barker, added: "We just want to know what will happen to it if it is sold.
"We will continue to meet the city council to ensure we are kept updated with any planning applications which are submitted."
Stoke-on-Trent City Council which also plans to cut the £162,000 community hall annual budget altogether from April 2013, confirmed the hall was up for auction.
A spokesman for auctioneers, Butters John Bee, said: "The lot has a guide price of £35,000.
"It is a former hall with additional meeting room, kitchen and two toilet facilities. The property has two points of access off Addison Street, one of which provides a ramp to the premises.
"To the rear is an outbuilding housing the boiler and parcel of land accessed from the alleyway."
The Sentinel reported how Abbey Hulton Community Hall closed for the last time on Tuesday.