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Manager of Arundel Social Club in Borehamwood goes to court to fight eviction
The future of a social club hangs in the balance when its manager goes to court next week to fight her eviction.
Karen Ward, who manages the Arundel Social Club at Three Ways Community Centre in Borehamwood, will appear in Watford Magistrates Court on Monday after she refused to hand over the keys.
Her lease ended at the end of February and Hertsmere Leisure, which manages the community centre on behalf of Hertsmere Borough Council, refused to renew it, giving her three days to hand over the keys and leave the premises.
The organisation said it had been forced to take the action because of Ms Ward’s failure to pay the rent.
However, Ms Ward refused to leave, saying she was unable to pay in February because she had not yet received an invoice, which finally came in March.
She claims she was promised by Hertsmere Leisure she would be given a one year lease, which was to be renewed for three years in February if “everything went smoothly”.
Since then she has been paying the rent on a weekly basis and waiting to know her fate.
She said: “Everything has gone smoothly. When I started here the club was really run down. I’ve worked very hard to build it up again. I’ve redecorated and installed CCTV.
“We’ve got more than 200 members who come here to meet their friends and play pool and darts. Our oldest is 92 and we have a lot of young members as well.”
The social club also hosts weddings, parties and other events, providing revenue for the community centre.
She said she felt Hertsmere Leisure was being “underhand” and taking advantage of her hard work by forcing her out to put someone else in charge.
She said: “The members won’t be happy if I’m forced out. The group Hertsmere Leisure has in mind owned the club before and ran it into the ground.
“I’m worried they will put the prices up meaning the elderly can’t afford to drink anymore, or it will get so run down it is forced to close.
“Where else can grandparents drink with their grandchildren in a safe place?”
Ms Ward has received support from members of the club who say they are worried once she is gone the Arundel Drive community centre will be transformed into a pub or knocked down and replaced by flats.
Chairman of Hertsmere Ukip and former chairman of the community centre Frank Ward said he would fight hard to keep Ms Ward in her position.
He said: “Hertsmere Leisure can’t do this after all she has given to the social club and community centre.”
A spokesman for Hertsmere Leisure said: “As legal proceedings are underway, Hertsmere Leisure is unable to comment on the court case at this time. Hertsmere Leisure refutes the allegations."