Women's Institute branch considers legal action in Kelly Bray hall row

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

A Women's Institute (WI) is considering legal action in a row with villagers over ownership of a meeting hall.

The Cornwall Federation of WIs (CFWI) says the hall at Kelly Bray is theirs and anyone wishing to use it should seek their permission.

But according to locals, the hall was purchased in 1937 by the village for the WI.

The row started after the local branch of the WI, which met in the hall, folded in 2013 due to lack of members.

The CFWI changed the locks and put up a sign regarding entry requirements in November 2014.

However, residents changed the locks again and are using it for events.

Image caption The CFWI put up a notice on the hall asking for people to seek permission to enter

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

'Highly regrettable' actions

The CFWI said in a statement: "The hall was established specifically for the use of WI and not for village hall purposes.

"The recent actions of the village hall committee to force entry in the building, change the locks and deny access to the trustees of CFWI are not only highly regrettable but also illegal, and the trustees are seeking a way forward through discussions with their lawyers."

The village hall committee rejected the WI's claims, saying that according to their interpretation of the deeds, the hall was purchased by the village for the use of the WI ladies and they have vowed to carry on using it.

It said the hall had been used over the years for events such as Christenings, wakes, dog-grooming classes and Young Farmers' pantos as well as the WI.

Susie Iannantuoni, from the village committee, said villagers had been "horrified" when the hall was locked by the WI.

"We have money to pay the bills, we have insured it and running repairs are being done.

"I think the situation is dreadful. We have the same aims as the WI, to have the hall for the community and reach out to people. We are providing a social service."

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