The future of Dinnington’s Miners’ Welfare Institute looks a little brighter following a meeting on Friday night.
At the meeting, called by Rother Valley MP Kevin Barron, the Friends of Dinnington Miners’ Welfare met with Vernon Jones, chief executive of Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO) – the site’s current owners.
The Friends believe CISWO wrongfully obtained the land, but it says it was unable to track down any of the original trustees.
“It’s not to the good of Dinnington that the welfare is in the state its in, and has been for many years. It offers very little to the people of Dinnington,” said Mr Barron.
But after months of wrangling over who had the right to own and run the welfare, the two sides seem to have hit a compromise.
Mr Jones told the group there were “three options” open to them.
He said: “It could be sold at auction and probably a big house builder would buy it and leave it until planning permission is granted. We could put a planning application in for the whole site and sell it.”
“Or, we can do what I think would be best for the community and try and preserve some of the recreation facility and sell part for housing.”
Mr Jones claimed the money raised from the sale of some of the site would enable the rest of the land to be kept for football pitches and a community room. But members of the Friends Group were unhappy with the prospect of housing being built on any of the site.
Following some heated exchanges Mr Jones made the Friends Group an offer.
“If there is a legal entity that wants to try and run the welfare I am willing to help them by giving them a lease for 12 months to allow them the time to try and develop a plan and secure funding. I can’t be fairer than that,” he said.
Friends Group treasurer Val Tatum she hoped the group could take it on board and “try and make it a reasonable place for the community”.
She added: “We can surely give it a try.”
Chair of the Friends group David Smith agreed that the proposal would be taken beck to their next meeting so the plans could be discussed.
He added: “The people of Dinnington have got the skills to help us get the place right again. The youth will help us because they have nothing in Dinnington.”
“It’s not an impossible task. It can be done. It’s been done before and it can be done again.”