A ROYAL British Legion Club which is tens of thousands of pounds in debt has suddenly closed.

The Legion club in Bargates, Christchurch, closed on Wednesday after the chairman received a letter from headquarters informing them that their licence had been withdrawn.

Unable to inform all 500 members chairman Steve Speake has posted a note on the door of the club.

It reads: “The Royal British Legion has withdrawn our club licence and we are unable to trade at this present time pending legal advice.”

Mr Speake, who took over as chairman of the club three months ago, said he was absolutely shocked when he received the closure letter.

“I had expected some kind of discussion about the club’s financials,” he said. “But to just receive a latter telling us to cease trading immediately was completely out of the blue.

“It has also put me in an awful position where I’m not able to inform our members and many have travelled to the club for an event.”

In the letter the Royal British Legion said the club is not considered financially secure.

Mr Speake said the club has been in debt for about four years, which had amounted to around £30,000.

“We had been working to try and reduce the debt and my plan when I took over three months ago was to launch a campaign to build our membership and help raise funds,” he added.

“Unfortunately three months isn’t a lot of time and now they have just shut us down without any discussion.”

The club acts as the social element of the Royal British Legion branch is Christchurch - which is still active.

“This will be a blow for a number of our members who view this club as a lifeline,” added Mr Speake.

“The majority of our members are over 70 and for some of them a club event may be their only chance to meet up with other people that week.”

Mr Speake said he was working with other members to see if anything can be done to get the club’s licence back. The Christchurch branch is the latest club to close. In 2014 the Boscombe club shut its doors. The Royal British Legion did not respond to a request for comment.