Express & Star

'We couldn't believe the council forced entry into our club without telling us,'' claim Dudley pensioners

Talks are underway in a bid secure the future of a pensioners’ club after council workers allegedly broke in to clear out the building.


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The incident, which has been described as ‘like a drugs raid’ took place on June 8 at Upper Gornal Pensioners’ Club in Kent Street in a dispute over repairs estimated to cost £100,000.

Dudley Council’s director of regeneration and enterprise Helen Martin said options for the facility were due to be discussed with councillors for Upper Gornal and Woodsetton and the residents.

Centre users were outraged by the tactics and used their cars to prevent the workers’ thought to be from Dudley Council leaving the site.

The club's chairperson Pam Hollis said: “They had crowbarred the doors open and crowbarred curtain rails off the walls. They pulled curtain rails down, opened up private lockers and took the door off another one.

“Another 10 minutes and the boiler and copper piping would have been gone.”

After a stand-off the items were returned to in the building.

Pam said: “They knew I was livid, they said it was going to landfill.”

The row broke out after the council, which says it owns the land, concluded the building needs repairs worth £100,000.

Dudley Council said it does not have the funds to pay for the repairs and as a result the building has to close.

The pensioners dispute the council’s ownership and say they were given the land for the centre in 1952 and raised cash to build it.

They also queried the size of the repair bill which relates to suspected damage to foundations caused by a leaking toilet.

Pam said: “We have had a crack in the ceiling for 15 years, it’s never moved – I’d like to see the quote they have had.”

Mark Westwood, a former councillor, said: “People were crying, it is totally wrong the way things have been done.

“It’s almost like a drugs raid, these people are heartbroken.”

Upper Gornal and Woodsetton ward representative Adam Aston said: “It has had a devastating effect on older members of the community, to be treated like this by a local authority is really disappointing.”

Helen Martin said: “We have recently met with members of the club and local councillors to discuss the future of the Upper Gornal Pensioners’ Centre.

“Following that meeting, we have reviewed options for the site, which local councillors are due to discuss with members of the club in order to agree a way forward.”

Chairman of the council's overview and scrutiny committee Councillor Shaun Keasey added: “Discussions have taken place between the council and representatives of the centre and hopefully there will be movement towards a positive outcome.”

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