Residents launch battle to save village ‘community centre’

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Villagers have gone into battle with their parish council over plans to put the village ‘community centre’ on the market for private hire.

Angry residents in Southwater say that the building - Easteds Barn - has always been intended for community use.

It’s the village’s second battle over the barn - in 2010 residents helped block a plan by Southwater Parish Council to hand the building over on a long lease to a nursery school.

Now residents want to stop the council from again trying to hire out the building on a long term lease. The barn is used by a number of local organisations for a variety of events including keep fit, karate and zumba classes, along with villagers’ weddings, anniversaries and birthday parties.

Protester Maureen Whitehead said: “I don’t think there’s one child in the village who hasn’t had a birthday party at Easteds Barn.”

Horsham Councillor Billy Greening is also among protesters and has gathered more than 800 signatures on a protest petition, stating: “Easteds Barn should remain open to the public as a valued community asset.”

The protesters - who have formed an Easteds Barn Action Group - maintain that the barn was donated to the village by developers for community use.