Community hall to get expansion after 13-year wait

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A COMMUNITY hall has been granted cash for an extension after a wait of almost 13 years.

Milton Village Community Association has been told it can have an extra £20,500 to build a 100-person capacity extension.

The building will mean the oversubscribed facility will be able to make ends meet for the first time.

Centre manager Allison Udy said: ‘We’re very pleased. It’s been a very long wait, but fingers crossed everything is now in place and we’ll see some real progress in the next few weeks. It will make a massive difference to us.’

The hall, on Milton Road, Milton, hosts community groups including mother and toddler sessions, NHS quit smoking classes, craft groups, yoga and Tai Chi sessions, and many other activities.

But because it has just one small room and a hall with a capacity of 40 to 50 people, it has had to turn groups away, and seen others move to bigger premises when they grow more popular.

As a result, it has to battle against budget shortfalls of up to £6,000 per year.

Ms Udy said: ‘We’re a charitable organisation, but we make money to keep going with things like holidays and day trips, and I am hired by the council to help run other centres. But we wouldn’t have been able to carry on much longer. We struggle to pay bills. It’s frustrated us because we have had to turn people away or lose them because we’re not big enough.

‘We’re looking forward to the new hall, so we can accommodate more groups, and run more community parties and events.’

The whole project, on which preliminary work has already begun, will cost £130,500.

Portsmouth City Council had already agreed to pay £100,000 and Langstone Church donated £10,000.

On Thursday, the council’s leader for culture and leisure, Cllr Lee Hunt, agreed to pay an extra £20,500 so the work could be completed, bringing to an end a wait which began with a failed lottery bid in 1998.

He said: ‘I’m pleased the wait is over for the hall. It’s a great centre and focal point for Milton. We want this centre, and others like it, to go from strength to strength.’

Building will begin next month, and it’s hoped the hall will open in June.