THE future of a village hall threatened with closure has been secured with news that it is to be run as a charity.

Gunnislake Village Hall is to become a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO), charitable status which allows the trustees to apply for grants to upgrade the building.

‘It is fantastic news for the community because it saves the hall from closing and there was a firm belief in the community that if it closed at any point then that would be it,’ said committee chairman Adam Corrigan.

‘It is an amazing facility for the village and now we want to find out what activities and classes people want to see there and get it used.

‘That is what it needs to survive.’

The building previously known as Gunnislake Public Hall operated as a social club until it was closed in January when a new committee took over running the hall.

Adam said there had been widespread concern among residents that the hall, which is owned in trust for the village, was not being used as it could be by the community.

‘There was a social club but it was more exclusive than inclusive,’ he said. “No one was running the upstairs of the club at all and the social club was downstairs but that was dwindling in popularity. It had pretty much ground to a halt and was not really being used.

‘My first action when I took over in January as chairman was to close the hall because there was no certificate for the electrics, so there was no guarantee that the electrics were safe.’

The top floor is now open, with the electrics having been certified as safe, and grants will now be sought to do major work to the ground floor. Funding will be sought to install disabled toilets and access.

‘We have got to get more money to sort out the wiring on the ground floor but that is a much bigger job,’ said Adam.

‘It is yet to be decided what we will use the space for, but one idea is for it to be a coffee shop. There is no coffee shop in the village at all, although there are plenty of pubs.

‘We will be having a bar upstairs when events are on, but we don’t want to turn the place into a bar because that then becomes the focus.’

Open days are being held in September to allow people living in the village to give their ideas for things they would like to see held in the hall. Ideas include yoga classes, marshal arts and the return of the village market to the hall.

‘It is all about creating a visible focal point in the village for events and classes and we are trying to get fitness classes going. We are also going to be sending a questionnaire around the village to ask people what they would like to see. We want to find out what people want, and make sure it is used.

He said the new charitable status was the best way to make sure the hall was there for the community in the future.

‘This means that it will be run under the auspices of the Charity Commission, which gives the village the protection of knowing it is being run for the right reasons and in the right way.

‘It means that if somebody is not keen on the way it is being run, they can go to the Charity Commission, and they can also give us guidance.’

Sue Lemon, clerk to the council, said: ‘The parish council was involved from the beginning to advise the way forward. After some discussion we also helped the village hall obtain a grant from the Devolution Fund from Cornwall Council to make the hall a safe environment.

‘Councillor Dorothy Kirk — member of Cornwall Council for Gunnislake — organised the grant from Cornwall Council.

‘The parish council is very happy that the village hall has been saved for the future and will be available for all members of the community.’

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