SUPPORT is gathering to keep a church hall open after it was deemed that it would become unsafe in the future.
More than 350 people have signed a petition to keep the hall in Elson, Gosport, open after the church announced it was set to close.
It is a vital part of the Elson community and the support by residents who want to see it remain open shows that.Cllr Craig Hazel
Users of the hall, who include a nursery, Scout group, Slimming World and other community groups, say the hall needs a makeover – not closing down.
Borough ward councillor Craig Hazel has met the church and says the council will support it to keep the hall in Elson Road open.
He said: ‘I have met people at St Thomas the Apostle because I wanted to know what their plans were for the church hall.
‘I came away from the meeting feeling positive that the church is doing all it can to keep it open.
‘Their interests are to improve the hall which needs a makeover.
‘It is a vital part of the Elson community and the support by residents who want to see it remain open shows that.
‘The council says it will support the church.’
Cllr Hazel added that the church is the only community hall in Elson.
Sandra Dugan, manager of Happy Days pre-school which uses the hall, started the petition which has 374 signatures.
She said: ‘I’m overwhelmed by the response that this has got with over 350 people having signed it.
‘As an established pre-school, giving us in effect only September and October to vacate the premises, this came as a great shock and upset us.
‘This is simply not a long enough time to find premises within the Elson area when there are no other community halls for use.
‘What upsets us all, especially me as manager of the pre-school is the amount of rent we have been paying.
‘It would be great to know where all this money has gone.’
As reported in The News, the church announced this month that the hall would become dangerous if nothing was done. It said it could not complete the works while the hall was open and it would have to close for the safety of the groups.
The church did not want to comment on the petition but said the talks with Cllr Hazel were constructive.