Friday, 22 February 2019

Fish volunteer centre given chance to move back into village hall

THE Fish volunteer centre in Sonning Common could move back to the village hall.

The charity has been based at the village’s former surgery in Kennylands Road since it left its small room at the hall in Wood Lane in 2014.

But it is now in discussions with the parish council, which owns the hall, about a possible return.

The council has asked for plans of possible changes to the hall interior to be drawn up and parish clerk Philip Collings has had a meeting with Fish chairman of trustees Clive Mills.

Mr Collings said: “I have asked to get some drawings done by architect Shaun Tanner about office space for the Fish volunteer centre.

“We have got some space and our council needs to make some modifications.” Councillor Douglas Kedge said: “We have not made any decision yet. It is a suggestion and from my point of view it is a good one. It places Fish in the village centrally and would make them much more accessible.

“My guess is that my colleagues would agree that it’s a good idea, but we have not discussed it in full.”

Councillor Barrie Greenwood said: “I would support rejigging the village hall in order to provide sufficient space for Fish. It would be a good idea long term because the hall occupies a central position in the village.

“We need to reconfigure the interior of the hall but we would not wish to prejudice certain users of the hall. We don’t want their space reduced. It is a difficult balance because space is at a high premium within the hall for storage and the variety of users we have.

“Overall, Fish returning would be desirable if it could be accommodated.”

Councillor Stuart Howe said: “My view is that we need to look after Fish. If they are going to lose their office, I would welcome them because they are an integral part of the village.

“I can only assume that they would need to leave at some point if the property was put up for sale.

“Fish meets the needs of multiple people in the parish, not just Sonning Common, and there is obviously a shortage of places for them to be accommodated. In the past the parish council has been very generous: why would we turn our backs on them?”

Fish, which provides transport for elderly residents in Sonning Common and nearby villages, had to move out of its base in Kennylands Road in 2017 after it was damaged when a Volkswagen Golf smashed into the building.

It operated from a room at Christ the King Church in Sedgewell Road until work to repair the building and remove asbestos was completed in August.

Cllr Greenwood added: “Ever since the accident, we have discussed the long-term future of Fish.

“They are currently renting space in a residential home. One cannot predict the long-term future of Fish in that context, whereas in the village hall, run by the parish council, it’s possible to see a much longer-term future.

“It is in the village’s long-term interest to have security for Fish, a much valued organisation.”

Mr Mills declined to
comment.

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