Cornwall

Kelly Bray villagers change hall locks in WI row

Kelly Bray Hall
Image caption The hall was purchased by the village for the use of the WI ladies says the hall committee

Villagers are locked in a row with the Women's Institute (WI) over who owns their local hall.

Residents of Kelly Bray, Cornwall said "on your bike", after they were told they could no longer use the hall when the local branch of the WI folded.

After the closure in November, Cornwall Federation of WIs (CFWI) changed the locks and banned villagers from entry.

However, residents said the 78-year-old hall was built for everyone and have changed the locks again.

The CFWI has declined to comment on the villagers' actions until a meeting on Wednesday to decide what action to take.

The hall, on the corner of Stokes Road and Parson's Green, was built in 1937 with the deeds saying the site was sold "for an Institute for the women of Kelly Bray".

However, the WI branch folded last November because of a lack of members.

The CFWI put up a notice "as owner of the property" saying "no-one can lawfully enter the premises" without its authorisation.

But, villagers said the hall was purchased by the village for the use of the WI ladies.

Image caption The CFWI put up a notice on the hall last November forbidding villagers to enter the hall without permission

Susie Iannantuoni, of the village hall committee, said: "Christenings, wakes, dog-grooming classes and Young Farmers' pantos have all been held there.

"We were absolutely horrified to be told we couldn't carry on using it.

"So, we have put up our own notice saying we don't recognise your authority and on your bike."

The issue was referred by the committee to the attorney general who said the issue did not come under his jurisdiction.

The CFWI has asked the Charity Commission if it can rent the hall to the villagers.

The commission said it had "always tried to assist the charity in achieving such an outcome".

But, the commission said the CFWI needed to show that was "in the best interests of the CFWI charity", for it to be legal.

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