Fakenham Community Centre to close for urgent repairs
Hundreds of people have been left in limbo by the news that Fakenham Community Centre will have to be partially or fully closed so repairs can take place.
North Norfolk District Council is so far unable to say when and for how long the building will be shut, whether all of the building will be affected or exactly what work needs to be done.
Structural engineers examined the building after cracks were spotted on several walls. Their report indicated that the supporting walls were failing to hold the roof securely and advised that work should be carried out urgently.
Ten community groups use the Oak Street venue every week, including Fakenham Indoor Bowls Club, Fakenham Day Centre and Fakenham and District Light Operatic Society (Fadlos).
It is used by blood donors twice a month and hosts antiques fairs once a month, while a new monthly indoor market was due to start in October and two wedding receptions have been booked for next year.
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Fakenham Community Centre is owned by Norfolk County Council and leased to NNDC, who lease it on to Fakenham Community Association.
Ben Francis, vice-chairman of Fakenham Community Association and Fadlos, said yesterday that it looked like the bar area, kitchen and tolilets would remain open and the main hall and foyer would close on October 9.
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But these facilities alone would not be suitable for many of the groups.
A structural engineer would then visit the property and a decision on how long these areas would be closed for would be made within two weeks.
Councillor Peter Moore, NNDC cabinet portfolio holder for resources, said: 'Unfortunately a lot of people will be inconvenienced by the closure of the community centre, but our overriding concern is for public safety and we have had to act on the advice of the experts.
'We are doing all that we can, working with the community association to find alternative locations for the many excellent activities that take place at the centre.'
It is hoped that space within the adjoining Fakenham Connect building will be used by many of the groups.
But Mr Francis said: 'We also hope the bar area will remain open but these facilities won't be suitable for all of the groups and I believe Fakenham Day Centre and Fadlos will suffer the most. A major problem for Fadlos is we will have nowhere to hold our show, Beauty and the Beast, in December and we have to pay a licence fee of around �1,500 if the show goes ahead or not.
'Without the money received from ticket sales Fadlos could fold. Fakenham High School is not available at the time we need it and the dates can't be changed because of the licence agreement, but the Fadlos committee is determined to find another venue.'
He added: 'The Fakenham Community Association has put in far too much work to just let the doors of the community centre stay shut.
'I've been given a rough estimate that between �15,000 and �20,000 will be needed for the repairs and if the council can't pay it we will raise the money ourselves.
'But at the moment we are continuing to work with the council to get the work completed in the shortest possible time.'
The exact date of closure will be announced following further discussions between the council and the community association.
Anyone who feels they can offer Fadlos a venue to perform their December show should call Mr Francis on 07931 262147.