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Risborough resident: 'Legion sale was the right decision'
A RISBOROUGH resident has called into question why campaigners protested against the sale of the Royal British Legion hall in the town.
About 40 people held up placards and chanted, "we want it back" outside the Elim Oasis Centre in Bell Street at the start of the month.
The group are still angry about the sale of the former RBL branch to the Chilterns Christian Fellowship in 2011, who outbid the branch.
A RBL report released in April showed the charity had failed to comply with charity and trust law when it sold a number of branch properties, including Risborough. Since then the branch has not had a permanent base.
But Esther Lever, from Princes Risborough, wrote into the Bucks Free Press, refuting some of the claims, saying it was not unlawful as the branch was in debt.
She also said: "They cannot be 'immorally homeless' as claimed since the local Elim Church leaders offered them to meet still within the premises and also to store their belongings there."
Cllr Alan Turner, who is no the branch committee, said the branch was not running in debt and the church only offered times, which would suit them, and no space to store things.
Mrs Lever said although there were headlines about the concern over whether the branch would still be able to sell poppies, she has seen them being sold every year.
But Cllr Turner said the situation has been made more difficult as they have no where they can store the poppies, which they can have immediate access to.
Mrs Lever added: "The use of the building - another point. It is actually used now more than it has ever been, more or less every day, covering all ages from toddlers to senior citizens, not just church activities but all sorts of social events."
But Cllr Turner again disagreed with this and said the legion was used a lot for wedding functions, funerals and birthday parties, as well as day to day events, whereas now it can only been used when the church is not using it.
Mrs Lever also said: "The claim that £500,000 was raised by the local RBL is a bit misleading since it is known that someone loaned them 90 per cent or more of this. Since they were already running at a sizeable debt, how could they have ever repaid it? So the property would have become that of the benefactor who, it was said later, wanted the money repaid within two years."
But Cllr Turner said the money was there in the bank, donated by Eric Gadsden from property developers, W.E. Black Ltd. He said they would have rented it off Mr Gadsden at a peppercorn rent and paid it back when they could. He reiterated the branch was not in debt.
The investigation by RBL into the sale and others across the country continues.
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