Residents to buy hall from council
RESIDENTS fighting to save their community centre from closure are set to buy the hall from the council.
Hundreds of people have attended a public meeting to be told Stoke-on-Trent City Council has accepted the offer to buy Packmoor Community Centre.
Packmoor was one of 10 halls threatened with closure to save the council £162,000-a-year.
But committee members are determined to keep the centre going as a commercial venture and are taking bookings for 2013.
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The cost of buying the hall has not been disclosed.
Committee member Mike Sanders said: "We need finance to run the centre, and that means making changes.
"We need to raise membership from £1 a year, take more bookings for events and bring in new members by spreading the word around about what a fantastic facility this place is."
Members attending Wednesday night's meeting voted almost unanimously to raise the annual membership fee from £1 to £10, a move which should generate an extra £3,000.
Many residents also volunteered to help out at the centre or join the management committee.
Mr Sanders added: "We can't run this hall without the help of the community. We need as many people as possible to get involved in some way, shape or form."
He added: "The rule that you need to live within three miles of the centre to become a member will no longer apply.
"That was a council rule. We will welcome anyone who wants to join us.
"Everyone is passionate about keeping the centre open. It's just a matter of everyone pulling together and helping out if they can."
Members voted to buy the hall at a meeting in December rather than take over the centre as an asset transfer.
City councillor and committee member Ann James said: "We've all worked really hard to keep Packmoor Community Centre going.
"It hasn't been easy but it means a lot to the members and we're determined to keep it open.
"All of the committee are volunteers and no-one takes expenses.
"A lot of the members cut costs by providing their own refreshments and move their groups around the bookings as it is."
Barry Bailey, aged 75, of Packmoor, who attends a weekly dance class at the centre, said: "We are happy to provide tea and biscuits for the group because we want to keep Packmoor Community Centre open.
"The committee work incredibly hard and spend a lot of their own time and money on the place.
"We should all be very grateful to them and happy to help out in whatever small ways we can.
"We would hate to see this place close."
To become a member or to make a booking call 01782 783883 and leave a message.
Council officials have given centre committees until the end of January to come up with business plans for each centre or they will be closed down.