VILLAGERS in north Durham are being warned their community centre may be forced to close without more public support.

Alison Boyd, manager of Lanchester Community Centre, on Newbiggin Lane, said the historic building had suffered from losses in funding recently - leaving it with an uncertain future.

She urged villagers to ‘use it or lose it’.

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“It is a very valuable resource that we have got here in the village but it has got to be used more.

“We need help from people if we are going to survive as more and more places are offering rooms for hire at the minute.

“If things do not change there are going to have to be cuts to the times we can open. Ultimately, it may have to close.”

The former school, thought to date from Victorian times, was taken over by Lanchester Community Association in the 90s and has several groups meeting in its halls every week and month.

But Ms Boyd said the running costs and repairs are expensive and is urging more people to become members and for more groups to use the rooms for meetings.

The centre has secured £7,000 in funding from Mid Durham Area Action Partnership, County Durham Community Foundation and in donations to give the centre a facelift.

Work to paint the main halls, install new curtains, chairs and storage cupboards will be carried out next week.

Ms Boyd hopes people will use the centre for functions such as christenings, weddings and funerals.

She said: “We just cannot survive on an hour a week here and there for keep fits classes and that sort of things. There is a lot going on but we need people to know what they have got here on there doorstep.”

Hiring the main hall costs £13.75 an hour and the smaller hall costs £12.

The centre has a giant cinema style projector screen, which is hooked up to a Freeview television and a licence that allows people to bring their own alcohol, as well as kitchen facilities for catering.

She is hoping to hear from people with suggestions for the centre. The number to call is 01207 521 275.

The first event after the refurbishment will be an evening with five clairvoyants on Saturday, May 31 from 7pm with entry costing £5.