A thriving community centre in Belle Isle is celebrating after a long fight to establish ownership of their building.
Manorfield Hall on Newhall Road has always been owned by the community, but for years they couldn’t prove it. Ten years after Secretary Manager Geoff Byers first asked to see the deeds and with the help of Cllr Kim Groves, Leeds City Council have accepted that they only own the land and not the building.
When I visited, the main hall was full of toddlers enjoying their Christmas Party and someone was getting free legal advice from Ison Harrison in the small room.
The hall was built in 1994 with a government grant, but was seriously vandalised in 2000. Geoff, who had been calling bingo since it opened, was asked to get it back up and running again. This was no small job as at first they couldn’t get any insurance.
Slowly but surely Geoff with his wife Ivy and other members of the committee built up contacts and started activities. Line dancing and mums and tots at first, later followed by computer classes, art, zumba and martial arts.
“We are all volunteers” Geoff explained. “We’ve had great support over the years from the local Councillors and from local businesses such as Gala Bingo whose staff came and redecorated the hall for us.
“We’ve been knocked back so many times over the years, but I’m over the moon that it is ours now.”
Leeds City Council has agreed to grant a 21 year lease on the land giving the charity security of tenure.
Cllr Kim Groves said:
“I’m really pleased for Geoff that after years of struggling to get this sorted out it has finally been resolved. Manorfield Hall is a valuable community asset. The committee run a busy programme solely on passion and believe – they are all volunteers.”
Activities and Evenys Co-ordinator Emma Pogson-Golden explains that they plan to fill the gaps in the current timetable with more activities and aim for the centre to be open 9am-5pm every day.
“Sorting out the ownership will unlock more funding for us. We have already submitted bids to revamp the kitchen and dance floor and we are keen to brighten up the outside of the building and make it more welcoming” she explained enthusiastically.
“I’m trying to carry on Geoff’s legacy now that his health isn’t so good, but he’s there to keep me in check if I get too carried away.”
The future looks bright for Manorfield Hall.