IT'S MAKE or break time for Gunnislake Public Hall which needs to gain charitable status before it is lost to the community.

A management committee is to be set up in the hope of saving the vital community facility which is currently 'running on fresh air', Calstock parish councillors were told this week.

Gunnislake Public Hall is not eligible for grants because it is privately run by the village social club and has been for decades. A drop in club takings in recent years means there are no funds to keep the hall going.

Following a public meeting in the village, a steering group has been formed to write up a new constitution, gain charitable status and set up a management committee to run the hall.

Cllr Mike Greenwood said time was of the essence: 'If nothing is done fairly immediately the social club and the hall will close, which I do not think is good for a village the size of Gunnislake.'

The councillor said that with around 3,000 people living in Gunnislake he was not too impressed by only 40 turning up to the meeting.

'There are several interested groups, some of whom I believe would like to take it over, but it is important that the hall is here for everybody and not for just one particular use.

'It could be a wonderful place and has potential for all sorts of things, but we need to be in a position where we can get the money first and then put a decent plan together for its future.'

He told a meeting of Calstock parish councillors that the social club, which ran and funded the hall, had basically run out of money.

With people drinking at home and not going out, the takings had dropped dramatically. The hall was also let to people, sometimes free of charge.

'It's basically running on fresh air,' added Cllr Greenwood.

'We have to get together and find out how we are going to access funding because there is money out there for village halls,' he added.

'We need to find the funds to run it and there are also some considerable costs in terms of maintenance coming up. It is quite tatty in there.'

Meanwhile, a Friends of Gunnislake Public Hall group is being formed to raise some money in the short-term and a collection box will be placed in the post office for people's donations.

The public hall is the only venue of its size in the community and is currently used by charities and groups, such as the Children's Hospice South West for jumble sales, the recently formed youth club and the Tamar Valley Friendship Club.

Chairman of the hall and social club committee Jim Wakem told the Times recently that the club had been hit by a reduction in members and the introduction of the smoking ban.

The changes in the licensing laws and opening hours meant the club had no advantage over the pubs anymore.

He said the social club had spent between £30,000 and £50,000 on a new bar, kitchen and windows in the hall.

Once a management committee has been set up for the hall the social club will be able to run independently and be self-supporting.

If you are interested in assisting the project, telephone Kris Kitt on 01822 833900.