Group running Southgate Community Centre in Bury St Edmunds opens new hall

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The community around the Southgate Community Centre is already making the most of a new £10,000 small hall which was officially opened today.

Since the new hall opened less than a month ago bookings have jumped by about 50 per cent.

Roy Barnes, chairman of the Southgate Community Partnership that took over the running of the centre from St Edmundsbury Borough Council, officially opened the new section of the building.

The work on the hall was paid for out of money taken for bookings and involved the removal of concrete columns, the replacement the old ceiling, plastering of walls, and redecoration.

“It means a lot to us,” said Mr Barnes. “We couldn’t get many people in here. “Since the work was completed about a month ago, we have had more bookings for parties and functions.

“Bookings are up by about 50 per cent which is great.

“It has been a long time coming. We have been working on this for a couple of years now.”

Mr Barnes, has been involved in the running of the hall for nearly 40 years, ever since it opened in the mid 70s.

He said a slimming group, tap dancers, and a bridge club where amongst the community groups already making use of the small hall.

It was the first phase of improvements to the hall since the partnership took over its ownership from the council last year.

The partnership, Mr Barnes said, will now look to improve the disabled toilets with a hoist and a bench.

Mr Barnes said they had already received a grant from The Suffolk e Foundation and will now be looking for other funding.

“We have got about £5,000 so far and think it will take another £5,000,” Mr Barnes said,

Meanwhile the partnership is enjoying its new role as owners of the centre.

“It’s fun in a sadistic sort of way,” said trustee Peter Boyt.

“It has been a very steep learning curve but we are in a much better state than we have ever been.”