Counting cost of a new village hall in Mareham le Fen

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Controversial plans for a new village hall in Mareham le Fen look set to go ahead - but at what cost?

Villagers have been working towards a new hall since 1995 and set up a Charity Trust six years later.

That paved the way for a successful grant application to the Big Lottery Fund for £454,000.

According to County Councillor Colin Mair, there have been pledges of more grants - £75,000 from WREN, £25,000 from Lincolnshire County Council and £8,000 from East Lindsey District Council.

However, there could be legal implications for the village Parish Council regarding the cash from the Big Lottery Fund.

There are also reports of an overall funding short-fall of £127,000.

Coun Mair says that led to the Parish Council being asked to find the extra funding as a loan.

He claimed that if the council borrowed the money, it would result in repayments of £7,500 per year - for anything up to 25 years.

A solution could involve selling the existing Parish Hall - and the land next to it.

The parish council met in a ‘closed’ meeting on March 19 but Coun Mair said not enough councillors were prepared to agree to take on any financial responsibility.

He added Parish Council chairman Jim Bowen resigned and walked out of the meeting.

Around 150 people attended another meeting last Sunday, chaired by Coun Mair.

He said there was a “lively discussion” and added the majority of people voted for a new hall.

Graham Beecham, chairman of the hall’s charity trust, suggested alternatives that would end any financial obligations to the parish council.

The council is expected to rubber stamp proposals.

Coun Mair said that might not be the end of the matter as several parish councillors have indicated they will step down before May’s election.

Coun Mair says he fears not enough people will come forward to make the council a viable proposition.