St Albans Royal British Legion and residents fight against plans to sell 'community facility'

St Albans & Harpenden Review: Royal British Legion and residents fight against plans to sell 'community facility' Royal British Legion and residents fight against plans to sell 'community facility'

The St Albans Branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) has joined forces with residents to fight against plans to sell the hall it operates from.

Last month the RBL headquarters announced proposals to sell Mitchell Hall in Verulam Road, home to the city’s branch to provide help and assistance to ex-service personnel and their families, since 1921.

This month members from St Albans RBL and Verulam Road Residents' Association organised a well-attended and lively meeting to discuss forming an action group.

Don Dell, chairman of the St Albans branch, said: "This is very bad news. "It is still early days and we have been left in limbo. Since the meeting headquarters have told us they do not plan to sell off the site for development.

"This is good news but we don’t want the site to be sold at all."

Mitchell Hall is named after the Rev B E F Mitchell, who donated the premises to St Albans British Legion in trust in 1936.

However, since then, the trust was transferred from the St Albans Branch to the Legion’s headquarters, now the owners of the property.

During the meeting, resident Ed Suttie expressed his dismay at the threat to dispose of the property.

He said that the community regards the hall as an important facility which "must remain available to all."

This determination to preserve it was shared by the city’s MP Anne Main, Mayor Annie Brewster and several St Albans councillors. County councillor Sandy Walkington and Edgar Hill, one of the nominees for next year’s city council, were also present at the meeting.

Mr Suttie explained Mitchell Hall is currently being processed for its addition to the Councils Assets of Community Value register. Besides the work of the Legion it is regularly hired out to local societies and organisations.

This year alone the hall has taken a leading role in five remembrance ceremonies and raised in excess of £59,000 during the two weeks of the Poppy Appeal.

Members from the residents’ association and the legion have now formed an action group to offer ideas for greater use of the Hall.

For more information contact Mr Dell on 07747 467836 or Mr Suttie on verulamroadra@gmail.com.

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