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Final push for church project

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A professional fundraiser has been hired by Bingham Methodist Church to help secure the remaining money needed to build its new £1.9m centre.

The Bingham Reconstruction and Redevelopment group has raised £520,000 towards the project through donations, events, legacies and support of the wider Methodist Church.

Mr Ron Maxwell, the group’s chairman, said they had employed Mr David Blakemore, based in Birmingham, to help their fundraising efforts because the current building on Union Street urgently needed replacing.

He said the roof needed repairing and the chapel needed to be made damp proof.

Mr Maxwell said they could raise the money alone but it was likely to take longer.

He said: “We have done extremely well. It’s now the time factor. We would like to get things moving. We have to get on with this.

“He has many more contacts and knows where to go.”

Mr Maxwell said the group expected to secure £300,000 from various trusts once they had reached £1m.

The Methodist Church has planning permission for the development, which includes a hall that accommodates up to 200 people and several smaller meeting rooms.

Work is due to start in 2009.

Mr Maxwell said nearly 50 groups used the current building as a meeting place.

“Some use it every week or once a month. The vast majority are groups that have nothing to do with the church itself. We see no reason why it should be used on a Sunday and left empty the rest of the time,” he said.

Mr Maxwell said the new building could be used as the town’s main community centre, a suggestion made by several residents at Bingham’s annual town meeting.

He said the church had been a community facility for 200 years and they would consider coming to some agreement with Bingham Town Council, although they would retain ownership of the building.

Bingham Town Council has been looking for a site for a community centre for two years.

In that time 20 sites have been looked at but it has yet to find one that is suitable.

At the annual meeting, residents said it was pointless that both organisations were working separately, and fears were raised that neither would succeed.

Mrs Betty Nock (69) of Station Street, Bingham, said: “I feel the Methodists have provided a community hall. It’s in the middle of the town. I think the town council should put an amount of money in.”

Mr Neville Fowler (69) of The Banks, Bingham, said: “We aren’t making progress. We need to push the thing forward. Do we want two community halls because the Methodists will get there. They are quietly determined and they have God on their side.”

Another resident, Mr Geoff Ashton (66) of Church Street, Bingham, said: “If we have two halls neither of them will succeed.”

He also asked if there would be a bar in the new building, because some would want to use a community centre for functions and parties.

Mr Maxwell said: “We have 47 different organisations using this place and only two of them have asked for drink to be served. We can get over certain aspects for alcohol to be served but you still won’t find a bar.”

The Mayor of Bingham, Mr George Davidson, said the idea of a partnership was possible but the town council may prefer to buy their own centre so they had more control over it.

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