Greig History Three
THE GREIG HALL STORY PART THREE - Bill Bayley
The aeroplane had been secretly got rid of, the Sports Hall was built, and the Greig Hall employed a Manager, at a salary of £10,000 a year. The Greig constitution had been changed legally to make it a Community Centre, with special regard for youth. There were now elected trustees, from the user groups. There was still no youth club there, and, as I said last time, the County Youth Service refused to build one, on the grounds that the Greig was set up to be one, so we didn’t need one. The Greig trustees did not agree, so Alcester lost out.
At this point, I got angry, along with Jeff Young, Swanny as he was known. We approached the Town Council for help, but none came. We pressured the Greig to let us form one there. They offered to run a youth cafe. We thanked them, but wanted a youth club as well. I was summoned to a trustees meeting, and asked how I would run a club. I took 20 minutes of their valuable time to tell them. They gave us permission to start one, and we told all the youths the date of the opening. When we got there, the door was locked. I informed the manager that I was on my way to get the press there to photograph the kids locked out of their promised club. The key was miraculously found, and we started.
There were quite a few things wrong, so I became elected as a trustee, to protect the youth club. The volunteers of the youth club were invited to the Charity Commission in Liverpool to voice our complaints, which we did. When there, we were asked if we wanted to return the Greig to being only a youth club. We said no, it was best as a community centre, as long as the youth club was allowed there. I asked the lawyer if they knew about the aeroplane, as it had been in the papers. She said they could not act on newspaper reports, only on complaints from beneficiaries. So said what I knew about the aeroplane, which they noted.
Six months later she came down here to see if our complaints had been acted upon, which they had been. She took me aside and said it was proving harder than they thought to find evidence of the aeroplane, but to see what happened. Six months after that, the Chairman resigned, left his shop, and Alcester. I was never told what happened, but it was clear they had acted. Nothing was ever said by the trustees, the Greig family, or the Charity Commission. Alcester was left to speculate, which it does to this day, that the Greig is somehow bent. In my opinion, until they tell us the true story of what happened, what was done about it, that the money was replaced, and why it could never happen again, Alcester people will continue to suspect the Greig of double dealing, at best.
Things rolled along fairly well after that. The youth club ceased to meet after 5 years, due to lack of volunteers. Tony Steer rallied round and got a large temporary building put up, at low cost, next to the Trades & Labour Club, who had always been a true friend of the youth club. Sadly, this closed after another 5 years, and the building was handed to the Football Club. It could not be made secure, and was burned down later by the unknown Alcester Arsonist, who also burned the cadet hut. The cadets now have a new hut, provided by the Army. The youth club was allowed to use the hut by the Sports Hall for 5 years, before it was moved to make room for the Sports Hall extension. We used the Green Room, and were promised another hut when the Scouts vacated it, but this promise was never kept.
The Greig business plans have all failed, despite removing ‘Youth provision’ from their constitution, and becoming a limited company. So that is where we are now, and soon houses will appear where the iconic 50s building of the Greig Hall once proudly stood, if their latest plan goes ahead. Let’s pray that too fails, and some Prince Charming emerges from the mists to rescue this drowning charity, and we can still use our Hall for concerts, plays, musicals, children’s theatre, and all the countless activities it has sheltered in the past 57 years.
I do not think that the present trustees should be ashamed. They are just as much victims of the past as we all are. They have done their best to steer a sinking ship off the inevitable rocks, and it looks as if they have failed, whether their latest plan works or not. They should go, but with their heads held up high, out of the splendid drum-shaped atrium of the Greg Hall. The damage was done at the start, and during the life of the Greig, probably most of it with the best intentions. But if the money left to maintain it had been left and not spent by past trustees, we may not be in the sad position we are in now. Official bodies have not behaved well either, the SDC has spent little in Alcester, the Youth Service saw a cheap way out. There is to be a new youth club at the Pavilion, God willing, but the SDC is as bust as the Greig, so look for no help there. The tragedy is almost complete. Shakespeare would be proud