PROCEEDS from the controversial sale of Malpas church hall will be used to finance repairs as well as installing new facilities.
St Oswald’s dilapidated hall was last year sold for £338,000 to Malpas resident Jerry Brunning sparking criticism from opponents who claimed the building had belonged to the community.
Church warden Nick Toosey told Malpas Parish Council annual meeting two projects would be financed by the sale.
One is stripping and relaying the nave and organ chamber roof partly because of the activities of lead thieves. When it rained and the wind was blowing in a certain direction, there were “a lot of leaks”.
In addition, there is a scheme to replace the toilets, kitchen and meeting room, formerly available in the old church hall, at the back of the church itself. He said this would be a “bureaucratic exercise” involving organisations like the Victorian Society and English Heritage.
Acknowledging there had been “a certain amount of comment” over the sale, he added: “I am very conscious, once we get draft plans, to make sure the new facilities are approved by the majority of the people in Malpas.”
Mr Toosey said he would be interested in hearing the views of the parish council.
Opponent Nevil Eaton remains unhappy with the situation claiming the church had no right to sell the hall.
He said after Second World War the local community gave the church money to convert it from the rector’s stables into a community facility.
Mr Eaton told The Chronicle: “It’s wrong what they did selling the hall.”
Malpas parish councillors were also told about acts of vandalism last year in which pieces of slate were thrown at the stained glass windows, on one occasion while a service was taking place.
Lead thieves had visited on a number of times taking eight or nine down-spouts and two or three sheets from the organ chamber roof, causing an “enormous amount of work and expense”.
The insurance policy had not covered the cost of extra security measures such as fitting polycarbonate panels and steel grilles over the glass or the CCTV system – although the latter had been funded by a generous local donor.
Mr Toosey said such events were “in the past”. The church was keen to welcome new members, particularly young people.