Burrage Centre fightback begins

A RALLYING cry has gone out to re-open the Burrage Centre social club at the James Paget University Hospital, which closed in March due to falling trade.

A 19-strong team of hospital staff have begun a fight to re-open the members-only centre, which was a popular venue for weddings, charity functions and business conferences for more than 20 years, and was also well-used by local residents.

The group met on Wednesday evening to discuss options for trying to get it re-opened.

Coral Blowers, who helped to organise the meeting, said: “We have decided to start a petition to see how many names we can collect in support of saving the Burrage Centre.

“We shall be meeting again towards the end of the month and, depending upon the level of support we receive, will determine how we proceed.”

In March, Burrage SC, the private company running the centre, surrendered its personal and premises licence to run the bar and its entertainment licence to hold events in the Celebration Suite, citing the effects of the economic downturn and smoking ban, which have forced many pubs and clubs to close.

The centre opened in 1987 and, in the early years, was a huge success, often packed to the rafters with people.

Most Read

However, 18 months ago the hospital trust, which ran the centre at the time, wanted to close it to concentrate on providing health services, as revenues were falling due to customers’ changing drinking habits.

But Burrage SC stepped in, believing they could revive the centre’s fortunes by developing the customer care side, but this failed to increase trade.

The hospital trust is considering options for the centre’s future, with one possibility to use it as a staff training facility.

However, a hospital spokesman said the trust would be willing to listen to a formal proposal from staff to re-open the centre, though warned as well as accounting for the financial viability of running the social club, there would also be safety, staffing, environmental health and insurance to consider.

He added: “We recognise that staff and members of the public who have used the club and gym in the past were disappointed by the closure.

“However, the Burrage Centre is not part of the trust’s core business in providing healthcare for the local population.

“Time spent managing this function would take resources away from front- line services and caring for our patients must be our priority.

“The sports and social club was not used by a large number of the social club members.”

Petitions for people to sign will be placed around the hospital. However, as yet there is no dedicated website or phone line.

l WHAT DO YOU THINK? Email anne.edwards@archant.co.uk or write to Letters, The Mercury, 169 King Street, Great Yarmouth NR31 2PA.