Ospringe Parish Council has received a letter from the Methodists informing us that they are no longer intending to sell Whitehill Chapel to the local community. Instead, we have been told that they will be looking to get the best price for the Chapel and will be selling the building by auction early in the new year.
The news comes despite the long negotiations between the Village Amenities Committee and the local Methodists, and the written commitment given to the VAC in April of this year confirming the agreement to sell the building to us for £70,000. The Methodists have cited the requirements of charity law and their own rules for having to withdraw from the sale to the local community, and instead to sell on the open market. They have told us that they believe the building is worth more than the price they agreed with us – they are therefore gazumping us.
The Parish Council and the VAC have had concerns for some time that the Methodists might walk away from their assurances to us, and we have been working very hard behind the scenes to try and prevent this happening. Now that the Methodists have told us that they will not honour their commitment to us, we believe that the local community should be told the sad news as soon as possible.
The Methodists have also said that they will be informing all users of Champion Hall that all bookings will have to cease from 21st February 2016 onwards, to tie in with the sale of the building.
Ospringe Parish Council together with the VAC will now be urgently considering what we should do. We committed ourselves a long time ago to trying our best to secure Champion Hall for the local community, and we have not yet given up on this.
Ospringe Parish Council