HOPES of saving a flagging village hall were raised this week after a new management committee was formed in a bid to safeguard its future.

Fears that Middleton St George Community Centre would be sold off to housing developers grew following a meeting last month at which the management committee chairman, Mike Latter, said mounting debts left the association with no alternative but to dispose of the dilapidated building.

But at a meeting called at the request of the parish council on Monday, members and residents agreed to fight on to keep the centre going.

None of the present management committee attended the meeting, and in their absence members elected a new committee, with Martin Walker as chairman.

Mr Latter confirmed on Tuesday that the present trustees intended to resign immediately and welcomed the fact that others were prepared to take over.

He said: "The old committee members are very relieved because this is what we have been asking people to do for a long time. I am delighted that somebody else has agreed to take over what has become a poisoned chalice and I wish them all the best."

Mr Walker said the intention was to keep the centre going until facilities at the new village school were available.

He said: "We are going to do as much fundraising as we can and try to get more people to use the centre. We are a big village now and we need a community centre.

"Now that it has reached rock bottom and people realise they could lose it, they have come forward to offer their time and effort to keep it going."

He said there was a lot of interest in forming a local history group at the centre and there were hopes of re-starting a youth club.

Mr Walker said he was not sure what the future held once the new school was built.

"It depends on what the community wants at the end of the day, but at the moment we just want to keep it going for the people of the village. We don't want to see it demolished and replaced by flats."