URGENT Please help Ashtead Royal British Legion

I am a resident in Ashtead, Surrey. You may remember Ashtead from when the NIMBYS tried to stop SSAFA from setting up their home and failed. Well now it is the turn of the Ashtead Royal British Legion Branch to be treated despicably and I am hoping the AARSE Members might be able to help again.

I am trying to help save the storage accommodation that Ashtead Royal British Legion Branch have used for the last 40 years. The Branch meet at Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall and have done so since it was built in the 1920s. They have used an Air Raid Warden Post, built at the rear of the Hall, for over 40 years to store all their Poppy stuff and other Branch material but now they have been thrown out of it against their wishes. The Trustees of the Hall want to demolish it and just put a bit of tarmac in its place, which the vast majority of Hall users will never see!

This week, the Trustees cut off the electricity to the Storage, meaning the the RBL organisers had to empty their stuff by torchlight. I think this is a despicable way to treat the RBL. One of their organisers had tears in her eyes as she was emtpying their stuff and the replacement storage given to them is so small that they are having to throw things away. I am very angry that this is happening to such good decent people.

Therefore, I am asking that anybody/everybody e-mail the Trustees and ask them to stop the demolition (which could happen next week) and give the RBL back their storage accommodation. If you could spare the time to help, please e-mail:
and send a copy (which makes sure it will be seen) to:

I just hope that if enough people make a protest, the Trustees might be forced to take notice and do the right thing for the RBL and give them back their storage and their dignity.

Thank you.

Apply for a listed building registration for the for the air raid warden post bit - phone English Heritage at Guildford (01483 252000) to let them know what's going on - they can point you in the right direction and might even put a temporary stop order on it. EH seem to be keen to preserve stuff from WW2 - it's flavour of the month.

Get RBL head office to give the owners a kick - they can't cut off supply to the building whilst you are still in lawful occupancy.

What has the branch done to help themselves so far?

The problem here is that it's been brought to our attention so late it is almost too difficult to achieve anything.

Edited to add I have dropped a missive to both addresses. See you PM for details.
Thanks for those comments. English Heritage at Guildford asked me to make a Listing Application but it has been turned down by London sadly. The Imperial War Museum were also very angry at the thought of this building being demolished but they are not allowed officially to campaign for its retention. The Branch has a Trustee but he has been ignored by the other Trustees and in particular by the previous Chairman who came up with his own pet scheme to "enhance the Hall". Some of the work done to expand the Hall is no problem but then none of the other users were affected. The RLB Trustee tells me that when he has objected, the Chairman has simply ignored him or spoken over him so that the RBL views are ignored. I am disgusted that the RBL are treated this way as they are the longest serving users of the Hall. Yes I have left it late (sorry) to tell you folks but I just think that I should not give up yet trying to save the RBL storage.
1,When was this decision made and were the RBL given a date or notice period to clear the room ?

2, Has the RBL tried to source alternative suitable storage space instead of throwing kit away?
The demolition was granted planning permission as part of the larger main Hall development (objections were made about losing the RBL storage). After that was completed late last year, there ws no more money to demolish the RBL storage. I have been told by the RBL that it will cost £10,000 to demolish because it was built so strong. Interestingly, the Trustees also got planning permission to build a replacement new shelter on the same spot that would cover about half of the site but this plan for a new storage facility has suddenly been dropped - this makes me very suspicious about their real motives. I think they (or at least a few Trustees) just wanted the RBL out and their storage demolished - but why? The new storage cupboard given to them is much much smaller and not at all suitable.

The plans to demolish this storage were suddenly put into action at the beginning of this month and the RBL told to get their stuff out.

I have had a piece written in my local paper (in which the Trustees told the paper lies about the building), I have contacted local councillors and written to the Trustees asking them to stop demolition. It seems they just refuse to listen to anybody but yet the Trustees are supposed to hold the Hall in Trust for the people of Ashtead for the future. How does demolishing a part of it fit that role?
Seems you are getting a raw deal and the short notice was a way of ensuring the proposed demolition would not meet any organised opposition, It looks like it may be too late to prevent this so maybe your efforts should be spent on finding alternative storage. Can a container be hired/ donated and placed on the land?

Hope it all works out and good luck
There is an article on the t'interweb (I think the OP is in it) where they state they are knocking it down and turning the ground in to a garden for the nursery group there...
Yes but it should be noted that the Playgroup have already had their room in the Hall expanded as part of last years work (at no cost to themselves) and also that the Air Raid Wardens post has stood for over 70 years in pretty much original condition (externally and internally) without any complaints. Also, the Playgroup are only there for some of the year - the RBL are there every week.
I would also add - approach Rowena Willard-Wright at English Heritage (based out of Dover Castle), she's one of the senior curators. Ask her if there is anything to salvage and donate before the demolition starts.
I have today received a letter from Mrs Jane Hiley, Chairman of the Trustees of Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall, in which she tries and fails to justify their actions. In amongst a load of waffle there are 2 key sentences that I have copied below:

"Leatherhead District Council was replaced by Mole Valley District Council and they have passed all consideration of matters at the hall to Trustees in Trust. The Hall and all buildings on the land are stated in our Trust Deed to be transferred to the Trustees for the benefit of the community in perpetuity."

This very clearly states that all the building are to be kept in PERPETUITY for the benefit of the community. Therefore, demolishing the RBL's storage contravenes the Trust Deed and is wrong by the Trustees own rules. The Royal British Legion do untold amounts of good for the community and so them keeping their storage is not only morally right but also falls within the definition of the Trust Deed for the Hall. I will inform the Charity Commission of their actions.

I have spoken with the Chairman this evening but she refused to listen to any sensible comments and just put the phone down on me! I was not impressed.

Please, if you can spare the time, e-mail her and the Trustees and let her know that there are people who object to the demolition. She refuses to believe that anyone but me has ever objected - she has even tried to get me to believe that the Royal British Legion are happy with the demolition - utterly incredible and totally untrue.


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