The national Royal British Legion (RBL) organisation is being criticised by a local branch for stonewalling its attempts to secure land for community use.
The Barrowby branch of the RBL – believed to be one of the oldest in the country – says it is being blocked by the national organisation as it attempts to work with Barrowby Parish Council to buy the land on which its clubhouse stood until this week.
The building, which was ravaged six years ago in an arson attack, was razed to the ground to make way for the national RBL to sell the land.
Villagers were polled by the parish council recently and 95 per cent of respondents voted to buy the land to build a community centre, which would also be used by the branch to hold meeting and events.
However, the RBL will not reveal how much it wants for the land, which means the parish council is unable to judge whether it can afford to take the project forward.
Barrowby branch chairman Phil Cupit, 66, said: “The national British Legion won’t put a price on it. Ideally, we would like the British Legion to negotiaite with the village and say ‘we would like x amount for it’, and then the village can look at raising that money.”
The branch committee feels the national organisation is blocking the community’s attempts and believes the RBL should be taking into account what the local branch and the community it serves wants to happen to the land, which is prominently positioned on the main road through the village.
To make the point that the Barrowby branch and its members feel strongly about securing its future in the village, it has spent £900 on buying a new standard, to replace the one destroyed in the arson attack on the clubhouse.
Mr Cupit said: “By buying it, we’re saying we’re not going to give up and that we want Barrowby’s British Legion to continue.”
A spokesman for the national RBL refused to be drawn on the concerns raised by the local branch. Instead, a brief statement was issued, which read: “The Legion, with full consent of the local branch, is in the process of demolishing the former club property.
“At no point has the Legion had an approach from the local parish council concerning this matter and any sale of the land must be in line with the terms of the Charity Act 2011 legislation. This involves placing the sale of the property on the market in order to obtain the best value, this is in accordance with the legislation and with the understanding of the local branch.”
n The Barrowby branch of the RBL meets monthly in the Reading Room in Barrowby, on the last Thursday of the month.