December 31st 2014, the centenary year of the outbreak of World War One, will be a sad day for Tarporley as on that day the Royal British Legion Club will close, writes Ernest Boynes.
Probably established after WW1 following the creation of the British Legion, it was designed to provide a centre of comradeship and social interaction for those servicemen who returned from duty and a place where the community, many of whom had lost fathers, sons and daughters sons during the war, together with those severely injured and who required help both medical and financial. There was no NHS or welfare state in those days. It was up to the members of the community to rally around and look after one another.
Over the last 30 or so years, for a variety of reasons including the theft of funds and apathy on the part of the community the club went into serious decline. The current committee, over the recent few years have devoted many hours of their time and struggled desperately to remedy the situation, but the task has proven to be too great. They have successfully been able to recover the current financial situation, so operationally the club is in the black, but as a result of previous neglect the building has fallen into such a state of structural dilapidation that they cannot possibly raise the £50,000 required to carry out essential repairs.
Grants are available towards these repairs but in order to qualify the club must have a minimum of a ten year lease. Should the club fail before the end of the ten years the individual members of the committee would be personally liable for the outstanding amount. The Royal British Legion will not renew the lease until such time as all the repairs have been carried out and have asked for a significant increase in rent, so the committee was left with no option but to put a motion of closure to the members.
At a meeting of club members on Thursday 5th December they voted by a majority that it should close.
What will now happen to the site, which could include the allotments and bowling green? At present this is uncertain and will depend of the decision of the Trustees. Although there are all sorts of opinions as to the contents of the Deed of Trust there is no certainty as they have not been published locally.
What is certain is that there will be a number of interest groups putting their case forward, but the ultimate decision will be made by the Trustees in line with the requirements of the Charities Act 2011 and to further the Objectives of the Royal British Legion, which, in summary is to provide care, help and assistance, throughout their life, to those members and ex-members of the armed forces and their families who are in need.
Apathy and disinterest towards the club by the community and its leaders has now resulted in the loss of an asset the community should have valued, leaving much uncertainty as to the future of the site.