THE future of a community facility in Ropley is dividing the village.

Ropley Coffee Room has been used by villagers for more than 100 years but its use has been uncertain. Its board of trustees has expressed a wish to dispose of the building on Church Street and close the fund which was set up in the early 1920s by the Hagen Trust.

A public meeting in the village last month was packed, with most people wanting the place to be retained for public use.

Some villagers are unhappy that the proceeds of any sale may go to the church for the rebuilding project following the major fire that destroyed St peter’s in 2014.

As a result of the feeling of the meeting any sale has been put on hold.

A villager, who asked not to be named, said: “A lot of villagers do not want the building to be sold. The trust was originally set up for the whole village.

“There is the issue of whether the Coffee Rooms will be required in the future but that is two years away.

“It does need updating, but there is still money from the trust’s sale of Meadowside, the private house next door.”

One villager was reported to have told the public meeting: “The coffee room was meant to provide a provisional for working men and boys for the village. It should not leave the Parish and go into the Diocese.”

But trustee Humphrey Carr told the meting the coffee room sale would not fund the church. “We can’t sustain three buildings as a village asset.”

The parish priest, Rev Clare Wellham, told the meeting that not all the proceeds of a sale would go to the church; the parish council would also benefit.

The situation is complicated because the coffee room’s board of trustees currently has no chairman.

The most recent chairman was Basil Lansdale who recently stood down.

An AGM for the board is due in September when a new chairman will be elected.

The Courtyard village shop next door to the Coffee Room is also owned by the trust but it is understood ownership would be transferred to the parish council.

In the long term Ropley will see St Peter’s church built with new facilities and potential use as a community hall as well as the Parish Hall.

When approached by the Chronicle, Ms Wellham did not want to discuss the situation. In an email, she said: “I hope you’ll understand that any official comment should come from the chairperson (we hope to elect a new one at our next meeting). Following on from the public meeting, the decision has been taken not to go forward with the proposed application to change the trust at this stage so in a sense there is no story at this point as all is continuing as usual.”