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January 18, 2010 3:44 PM
Terrye Teverson with Cathy Kemp at Devoran Pre-School

"Devoran has a large population but has lost almost all of its village amenities," explained Paul Hains, Chairman of Devoran Action Group.

Campaigners in a small Cornish village have spoken of their shock at being given just 30 days to raise £300,000 to buy the building they were hoping to turn into a community centre.

Members of the Devoran Action Group were told by the leader of Cornwall Council, Alec Robertson, in December 2009, they would be offered the chance to put their plans before a meeting of councillors and local residents.

The council have now decided to go ahead with plans to sell off the old school building without consulting local people.

"Devoran has a large population but has lost almost all of its village amenities," explained Paul Hains, Chairman of Devoran Action Group.

"The old village school building would be perfect as a focal point for the village. We have been fundraising and planning to turn it into community centre which could host the pre-school, farmers' market and other social events for the whole village."

The building has been part of village life in Devoran near Truro, since 1846 when it opened as the local primary school. The school is now housed in a new building in the village, and campaigners would like to see the old building remain at the heart of the community.

Cathy Kemp runs Devoran Pre-School and is backing the plans to turn the old school building into a centre which could be used by the whole village.

"Currently we are based in the Methodist Chapel which really limits our space," she explained

"At the moment we can only have 15 children. Devoran is a growing village with lots of families, but we can't cater for many children because of a lack of space. It would be fantastic for us if the original school building was available - it would mean more local children would have nursery facilities in the village which would be good for everyone. Our biggest problem at the moment is a lack of outdoor space and that we only have one toilet for 15 children."

"If Devoran Action Group were given time to find funding to take over the building it would be fantastic for the young children in the village, and mean that the building remained as an instrumental part of their early year's education. It would be such a shame if it was sold off to the highest bidder."

Terrye Teverson has written to Councillor Alec Robertson asking him to reconsider the decision and meet with local people before pushing through this sell-off.

"Cornwall Council have reneged on their promise to hold a meeting with people in Devoran, and suddenly announced that if they don't come up with £300,000 in 30 days the building will be sold off to the highest bidder," said Mrs Teverson, Liberal Democrat Prospective MP for Truro and Falmouth.

"The Conservatives are constantly telling us they want to put the community back into our towns and villages, and yet here in Devoran they are doing the very opposite. I understand the Council is under pressure to balance its books, but surely they could meet with Devoran Action Group and give them the opportunity and support to keep this building for the good of the village."

"I don't understand why the Council have taken this decision since there is a dedicated group of people in Devoran who have already pledged more than £30,000 to this project. Devoran has lost its Post Office, village shop and soon there will be nothing to pull the community together." Mrs Teverson continued.

"The leader of the Council had led campaigners to believe that their views would be listened to - I know they are very upset to have been dealt with in such a high handed manner. I am urging the Council to listen the community and back their plans."