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Boscombe Royal British Legion club faces closure over £61k debt
THE popular Royal British Legion club in Boscombe may be forced to close after it was ordered to pay a five-figure sum by an employment tribunal.
The club, which celebrates its 90th anniversary in November, is owned by its members, many of whom are former Armed Forces personnel.
In 2010 the club was ordered to pay £47,000 in compensation to a bar steward for unfair dismissal.
Since then they have not had the cash available to pay, and the total has risen to around £61,000.
Dennis Gillard, the club’s recently appointed chairman, said: “At the last court meeting earlier this month we were given 28 days to prove we are trying to pay.
“But we are a long way off being able to pay a lump sum. The weekends are busy here, particularly when the football is on as we get all the Cherries fans in, but during the week it is quiet like everywhere else.
“It is a serious threat to the future of the club. If it was demanded all at once we would be forced to sell the building.
“A lot of Legion clubs are owned by the local branch and get support from the charity, but we get no outside support.”
Each year club members help out with the Poppy Appeal, as well as loaning the hall out for free to other Armed Forces charities, including Help for Heroes.
But it also has a history of helping local community, hosting birthday parties, weddings and other family events, loaning mobility scooters, and supporting the less well off by donating second hand items.
Club president Maurice Smithers said part of the problem was that they spent a lot of money some years ago to install a lift so older members and the disabled could get upstairs.
“I belong to four clubs and this has the best atmosphere of any of them,” he added.
ONE member said the club was an important place for local ex-servicemen when they had brought up their families and were looking for companionship.
Colin Gould said: “A lot of the members have some connection with the Forces and this is a place we can all meet up and talk about our experiences.
“In the past we had about 1,500 members and the queue was eight deep at the bar, and in the future there will be a lot of old soldiers looking for a place like this.
“It is not just for servicemen, all sorts of people come here from all over the town.
“It has a special atmosphere to it which you don’t find anywhere else and it would be a real shame to see it close.”