A SCOUT group and nursery have been left homeless by the closure of a church hall in Gosport.
The vicar of St Thomas the Apostle said the hall in Elson Road was dangerous and the mould growing was unsafe.
The church closing the hall is a real blow and we are struggling to find a new venue.Martin Webber
But users of the hall, including a Slimming World group and Happy Days pre-school, disagree saying a makeover is needed but the site is not dangerous.
Martin Webber, owner of Happy Days, said: ‘I have 26 children who use the church hall and if I thought it was dangerous, I would not let them keep coming here.
‘We have got a huge responsibility for the children and if it was unsafe, I would stop operating.
‘The church closing the hall is a real blow and we are struggling to find a new venue. It was a big shock when they announced it.’
Jane Hall, who runs the Fareham and Gosport Slimming World group, admitted that the building needs renovating.
‘It does need decorating and some renovation,’ she said.
‘But I would not call it dangerous.
‘If I thought it was unsafe, I wouldn’t have stayed here for 10 years.’
The church has given Happy Days and the Elson Scout group until October to find new premises.
The Rev Karen Mitchell said: ‘It’s not fair on the children and parents for them to attend a building like this.
‘We want to give them as long as possible to search for new premises, but we have to set a deadline at some point.
‘The pre-school uses the hall during term-time, but even the summer holiday isn’t long enough for us to do the repairs that are necessary.’
Ms Mitchell added the church was left with no option but to close the hall.
‘It’s sad, but we had to close the building,’ she said.
‘It was never designed to be permanent, but has served the community for more than 100 years.
‘It has now got to the point where it will become dangerous for people to use.
‘The damp means that there is mould now growing on the walls and the ceiling is starting to come down.
‘We are here to serve our community, so I am sad that we are having to do this.
‘But if we didn’t, we believe we wouldn’t be acting responsibly.’