Fishermen’s Club in fight for survival

Members of the Fishermen's Club pictured at Wednesday night's Extraordinary General Meeting.

Members of the Fishermen's Club pictured at Wednesday night's Extraordinary General Meeting.

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Raise £145,000 by January 31 or face closure. That’s the stark message facing Eastbourne Fishermen’s Club.

More than 200 members packed the building in Royal Parade on Wednesday night to be told of the club’s dire financial plight.

Although currently trading at a profit, inherent debts have left the largest social club in Eastbourne struggling to keep its head above water.

In 2011 a new committee took the club into a Company Voluntary Agreement - agreeing to monthly payments for a two-year period.

That has just finished but the club still owes £115,000 to that CVA as well as a pressing £30,000 VAT bill.

Now the administrators of the CVA and HMRC are pressing for the oustanding money.

Chairman Richard Field told Wednesday’s Extraordinary General Meeting the club faced the distinct possibility of going into voluntary liquidation unless the money could be found.

He outlined the options available but stressed that above all the money had to be found by the January deadline.

“If we haven’t settled those outstanding debts they’ll be knocking at the door. It’s as simple as that.

“We are trading at a profit but the problems we inherited are proving too much for us to meet our payments,” he told the meeting.

Members fired questions and offered ideas while others queried the value of the building which was put forward as £500,000 - a price many felt below what it should be for a prime seafront location.

Others urged the club to seek business rate relief from the council and also approach breweries for a loan.

The majority were dismayed over the prospect of voluntary liquidation and it was eventually agreed to hold an emergency fund-raising weekend to get the ball rolling and at which donations could be made by members.

When Mr Field, a local guest house owner and club member, took chairmanship back in 2011 he vowed to do all he could to keep the club going. He produced a business and supporting action plan which was accepted by the members.

The plan not only aimed to secure the financial future of the club but made history by ensuring women became full members, in line with the equality laws.

Following this meeting, a new committee was formed, of which 50 per cent are women, and trade and membership has grown to near the 1,100 mark.

Anyone interested in helping should call the club on 722664 or email at eastbournefishermens@yahoo.com