VILLAGERS are celebrating after plans to sell their much-loved community centre to the highest bidder were axed.
On Monday (June 13 ) more than one hundred villagers packed into the community centre at Dunham-on-the-Hill to fight to keep their vital meeting place alive.
Children and pensioners joined forces to save the centre, which provides a safe place for mothers and toddlers, senior residents and schoolchildren to socialise and learn.
Since 2008, when Cheshire County Council handed over the lease, generous residents have spent their free time painting and decorating the former primary school into a social space for the community to enjoy.
But despite an executive decision in March this year by Cheshire West and Chester Council to extend the community lease for a further 25 years, angry residents were faced with the prospect of the asset being sold off.
Outraged residents shouted "rubbish" as Cllr Pat Merrick, who was one of eight councillors to call in the decision, said that the centre was not used by residents and could save the council £250,000 if sold.
Cllr Merrick said: "At the end of the day you have a big mountain to climb. The usage figures are not suggesting the kind of community spirt that makes it viable.
"In our position we are asked to be very careful with our assets this building belongs to all the people of Cheshire West and Chester."
Eight councillors called in the application stating that the community centre, were festivals, hog roasts and celebrations are held, was:
not a bona fide community asset
surplus to the requirements of the community which has a good village hall
not being used enough by the local community
Cllr Merrick also questioned the hiring out of part of the building to a small private day school, which residents justified by saying it funded the running of the centre.
Residents applauded Cllr Les Ford as he defended the executive’s original decision saying: "It takes a very long time to take over a project like this and I am very impressed with what the community are doing.
"It is the only green space for children to play, so to sell it and build housing would not help the community. I feel it is very important that I support the local community and I am all for you continuing doing this."
Residents have said that they are delighted to still have control of the building and will be able to launch the new youth club in the coming weeks.