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Legion club shut over rent arrears

PUBLISHED: 15:38 18 November 2009 | UPDATED: 11:14 23 August 2010

ARMY veterans were locked out of the Royal British Legion club after it was closed indefinitely because bosses could not pay the rent. The Gravesend and Northfleet Royal British Legion Club, based in Trinity Road, Gravesend, was closed on Monday. Chair

ARMY veterans were locked out of the Royal British Legion club after it was closed indefinitely because bosses could not pay the rent.

The Gravesend and Northfleet Royal British Legion Club, based in Trinity Road, Gravesend, was closed on Monday.

Chairman of the club for the last seven years, Dave Rayner, 56, of Sun Lane, Gravesend, said veterans who had made the journey to the club had to be turned away on Monday evening after they arrived to find the locks had been changed and the front gate had been padlocked shut.

The blow comes a week after record numbers attended Remembrance and Armistice Day services to honour their fallen war heroes.

A notice displayed on the metal fencing surrounding the building displays a Notice of Forfeitureand explains the building has been shut because of non-payment of rent.

Hugh Phillips, head of membership services and development at the Royal British Legion, said the charity, which operates separately from Royal British Legion clubs, had taken possession of the building.

He said: "The Gravesend branch of The Royal British Legion holds a long lease on the premises at Trinity Road and sublets the premises to the Gravesend and Northfleet Royal British Legion Club Ltd.

"The club has been experiencing financial difficulties for some time and has fallen into arrears in the payment of its rent.

"When this problem became apparent an arrangement was reached to schedule payments of the arrears over an agreed period but the club has been unable to keep up the agreed payments.

"As a result, the club is in breach of its lease and the Legion, as landlord, has taken possession of the premises."

Mr Rainer, the chairman of the club, said: "We did fall into arrears with the rent, but the rent was extortionate and had risen from £500 to £650 a month.

"It really angers me that they are able to do this. The first I knew about it was when I arrived on Monday, all the locks had been changed. Some army veterans had arrived but had to go home, they had nowhere to go.

"We have been told we will have to pay thousands of pounds to get back in. There is nothing we can do now.

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