THE future of Oakley Miners Welfare Club is hanging in the balance after a decision to close it was halted at the 11th hour.

After years of struggling with debts and low membership, the club’s committee were due to hand over the keys to administrators last Tuesday.

However, a final public meeting the night before saw 18 new members come through the doors, committed to running the social club on a voluntarily basis.

But, despite the influx, the club’s future lies with The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).

Councillor Kate Stewart has been desperately trying to help the club to generate funds over the last few years.

She told the Press: “There was a lot of discussion and feelings exposed at the meeting but one young woman managed to rally 18 new members to commit to taking on the challenge.

"The group will still need to speak to OSCR and HMRC so it’s unclear what will happen and I would say everything is definitely still in limbo.

“However, it’s very good that 18 people stepped forward and the majority of these were young people so it’s quite a change from normal. They will be going to see what can be done now and begin discussions with the two regulators, however, ultimately, it is OSCR’s decision if it continues.

“The former committee has resigned and it will be up to these new members to take it forward.”

The building was first founded as a miners’ institute in 1925 and in 1954, it became known as the Oakley Miners Welfare Club, supporting the community for recreational purposes.

In recent years, only three committee members have been running the club when at least nine members are required, while the club also owed money to HMRC. The total debt owed to HMRC is not known.

Speaking before the public meeting, former secretary James Leonard said: “Unfortunately, the village has not been supporting the club even though we have warned them many times that it will have to close, I just don’t think they believed it. We have tried our best but we’re just not going to be able to pay HMRC.

“We have a situation where basically there will be only two people using the bar on a Monday afternoon and that’s not enough to pay staff or cover other costs.

“OSCR told us it was best for us to put the place into voluntary insolvency and with the sale of the land, the club’s debts will be paid.

“Ironically, the place has been mobbed since the public found out it’s closing.

“It will be a big loss to the village and the only pub left will be the Greyhound. The smoking ban has killed pubs and clubs and as soon as it came in we noticed a dip straight away.”

Cllr Stewart added: “If it closes, it will be the end of an era but there has been a lot of changes in the last several years with employment patterns and a lot of people are just unable to commit.

“Utility prices have rocketed so it’s a big financial pressure.

“I would like to thank the committee that have just resigned because if it wasn’t for them, the club would have closed much earlier. It’s a sad day for the community.”

An OSCR spokesperson said: “OSCR is aware of this situation. There are actually two organisations involved here – Oakley Community Charitable Society, which OSCR regulates, and Oakley Community Association and Social Club, which is not a charity.

"The decision on whether to wind up the charitable society is not for OSCR to make but is for whoever is serving as the charity trustees of the society.

"We expect them to make the decision in a way that complies with their legal duties and is based on a full understanding of all the issues facing the society.”