Petition to save James Paget Burrage Centre

A PETITION calling for the return of the popular Burrage Centre social club at the James Paget University Hospital has been handed to hospital executives.

A team of 19 hospital staff has been fighting 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 centre closed in March due to falling trade.

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.

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.

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The hospital trust is considering options for the centre’s future, with one possibility to use it as a staff training facility and would be willing to listen to a formal proposal from staff to re-open the centre.

However, applicants would have to account for the financial viability of running the social club, as well as safety, staffing, environmental health and insurance.

A hospital spokesman said: “A group of staff have met with members of the executive team to dicuss their proposals and hand over their petition.

The staff group are now looking into the potential options for a way forward. “Senior staff are also working closely with management on the potential future use of the centre.”