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Question mark hangs over future of Kendal's Ivy Leaf Club
ONE of Kendal’s oldest working men’s clubs is facing an uncertain future after half its committee resigned.
Although replacement members have vowed to turn around the Ivy Leaf Club’s fortunes, the three-storey Kent Street venue is facing financial challenges due to the economic slump and dwindling membership.
David Cotton was elected as the chairman at an extraordinary members’ meeting after the plight of the club was spelled out.
The meeting was called after outgoing secretary Alan Neighbour announced the club had less than two years to survive, having lost £50,000 in three years.
Mr Cotton described the announcement as a ‘bombshell’ and said that when he suggested ideas to improve the situation – including a membership drive and better promotion of the venue – up to seven committee members and officers walked out.
“We didn’t go in all guns blazing but we felt the committee was doing things that were making the club run at a loss,” said Mr Cotton, 67, of Kendal.
“It has done a lot of Christenings over the years and attracts 60 to 80 people some Sundays but people would be chased out at 6.15pm when it was in full flow to accommodate members. We questioned some of the decisions being made. If you’re losing money you don’t turf out 70 or 80 people to accommodate less than 20.”
But Mr Neighbour responded: “It’s a members’ club first and foremost and they have priority.”
Mr Cotton said he sensed the club was ‘failing’ two years ago and claimed unsuccessful attempts were made to take it forward.
But it was not until August that it became clear the club could close and an urgent meeting was called.
Half of the committee resigned and nine new members, plus a chairman and president, were elected.
“We are all determined to change the fortunes of the club,” explained Mr Cotton.
“We are trying to make it more attractive so it’s a place where you can come and have fun. We will listen to members’ ideas with an open mind; we want it to be their club.”
But Mr Neighbour said that unless the economic climate improved the club would still shut within two years.
He said: “There are two or three working men’s clubs going bust every week. We had ten people in through the week and that doesn’t pay the wage bill. It’s a big building and its got sky-high costs.”
They both said the loss of night bus services had hit the club.