Club's new lease of life

A once popular social club in Thetford is set to re-open after a new landlord was found.

The former Thetford Labour Club, in Bury Road, was closed in 2006 despite defiant action by members, who staged a sit-in after a long-running legal disagreement.

Ousted by a court order, members saw the building boarded up and left empty after more than 50 years as a popular meeting place.

Now, publican Jamie McGill, who also runs the Green Dragon pub, has signed a lease for the building, which is still owned by the Labour Party.

Terry Jermy, secretary of South West Norfolk Labour Party, said he was very pleased by the news.

"I think it is going to be a very popular venue," said Mr Jermy.

"It's going to have a new stage area, new carpets, electrics and heating. It will also have the longest bar in Thetford.

"It's been a long time since we had a solid place like this in this area of town for people to go regularly to socialise. We need a decent community facility like this."

The club has been re-named Thetford Social Club.

The building was originally leased to a committee of trustees responsible for running it, ensuring it was maintained and bills were paid.

That lease expired at the end of 2004 and from then until 2006, the building was occupied illegally.

When bailiffs arrived to carry out the court order in 2006, they found the door locked and the building occupied by around 30 members of the social club, who refused to hand over the keys.

The police, bailiffs and Labour Party representatives held talks with protesters through a window of the club to talk them out.

Mr Jermy said it was a difficult time in 2006, but former members of the Thetford Labour Club would be more than welcome at the new social club.

Peter Smith, chairman of South West Norfolk Constituency Labour Party, said: "We are delighted that Jamie has become the new landlord for the building and we have every faith that he will provide Thetford with a well-run social club, which will be a real boost for the town."