'We want our auction back' say concerned Lakes End residents over dispute with village hall committte
PUBLISHED: 13:06 13 January 2018 | UPDATED: 13:06 13 January 2018
A couple who have been running auctions for three years with community support have been banned from using Lakes End Village Hall.
Paul Clapp and his partner Susan Carson of Wisbech ran the Tuesday night auctions – that attracted up to 100 customers and often up to 600 lots –with the help of Lakes End residents Trevor and Dawn Rees.
But following months of acrimonious in fighting with the village hall committee the couple were given their marching orders.
The couple say a new village hall committee took the ‘unanimous’ decision to terminate the auctions in November with immediate effect. They claim to have been given just 24 hours notice.
The committee offered a number of reasons for their decision including the alleged selling of alcohol, breaching hire agreements, allowing smokers to use an emergency exit, and not clearing up after the auctions.
Mrs Carson said: “The injustice of the events of us being forced to close and the blatant lies have made us all the more determined to get back into the hall and resume the service that we offer. This auction means so much to us and the villagers of Lakes End.”
Mr Rees added: “The committee is there to run the village hall for the benefit of the villagers of Lakes End and the surrounding neighbours. They are not doing that.”
Mr and Mrs Rees once ran the auctions themselves and raised £6,000 to support upkeep of the village hall; they petitioned Upwell Parish Council – that has some management functions over the hall - demanding an emergency general meeting of the committee.
They gathered 62 signatures.
The couple say they tried to raise the matter with Upwell Parish Council, however deputy chairman Cllr Richard Melton said: “As a parish council we don’t have a great deal of power but we are doing our best to keep an eye on things.”
In an email to Cllr Lester, Mrs Carson said: “The committee now is totally unapproachable and unreasonable as most of the members will side with chairman Claire Robinson as they are either her friends or her partner.
“Our fear is that she will end up getting the hall closed. She has closed us down and the only regulars are the Monday Club which brings in £40 a month in rent.”
Cllr Lester replied: “As I understand it, the Lakes End Village Hall Committee have acted within their remit and no-one has the power to compel them to restart the auction or permit any activity they are not comfortable with or indeed hold a meeting to discuss the issues.
“Until the round of accusations and conspiracy theories is brought to a close and any hirer of the hall is prepared to agree to the committee’s terms and conditions, frankly I do not see a way forward.
“I regret the need to be so blunt but the likelihood of a meeting resolving matters while so much antipathy is driving the issue is nil. The hatchet needs to be buried first.”
Some villagers we spoke to say they are concerned they are being kept in the dark and that the village is losing its community spirit.
Mr Rees said “It all seems very cloak and dagger to me.
Villager Steve Millington added: “The auction was more of a meeting place - a night out. We’ve had people come from Peterborough, Newmarket, Essex, London.
“Everybody used to go up there and it was a time to meet up with friends and fellow villagers, but that’s been denied now.
“The only thing the village has got as a centre of community is that village hall.
“We want it to go back how it was.”
Cianna Rees, another Lakes End villager, who helps run the Tuesday Auction Facebook group, said: “We try and put pictures of all the lots from each auction up on our Facebook page. There are screenshots on social media from all of the auctions.”
We have are awaiting a comment from the Lakes End Village Hall Committee.