Alcan Mardon Social Club, 600 Green Lanes, Norton Hill, Midsomer Norton, Somerset
Club Historians have recently been in contact with Jamie, a representative of the Club. As a result we are pleased to include his information with the hope that extended publicity will help the club survive it’s current difficulties.
“At present we are at severe risk of having the club taken away from us and we are currently working hard to prove what a great resource a social club can be to the community as a whole - something that after looking at your site I'm sure you feel as strongly about as us! Maybe we could ask your site visitors to email us with words of support, commenting on the important role a social club can play in the community?
If you are at all interested I have included some information about Mardons Social Club's turbulent past. There is a lot more information on our website.
In 1978 Mardons’ employees were gifted a purpose built Social Club (the “old” Club) and Sports Ground, in Midsomer Norton, at a cost of £123,000 to the Company. The gift was in lieu of salary increases during the then government imposed wage freeze. It also included pitches for football and cricket.
In 1987 the land on which the “old” Club and sports ground stood was sold for housing development. The Employees agreed to the offer of a replacement, being the refurbishment of an existing building (former canteen) on the factory site, the current club. In 1997 a legally binding 10 Year Lease Agreement between the Company and Social Club was implemented. Ironically the proposal for the lease came from “Club sympathetic” management who at the time thought a lease would secure the long term future of the Club. However after the purchase and then closure of the factory by Alcan Packaging, the club was informed that the lease was not to be renewed beyond June 2008.
With that news, the social club and it's committee fought hard to overturn that decision, campaigning in the press, on the web, on the local radio and by meeting with the owners of the site and our supportive local MP. With the Alcan Mardon Pensioners staging a protest that was well covered locally, and publicity gaining momentum, eventually the decision was made to allow the club to continue with a year on year lease. An agreement was made that any purchaser of the site would be made aware of the Social Club's interest and that the social club would be put in touch with the new owners at a relevant time.
In late 2009 the potential new owner confirmed that they 'would like to see the social club continue'. In 2010 the sale agreement was made and Galiford Try became the new owners with the site development to be handled by its subsidiary Linden Homes. At that time they stated, "We are promising to work with the social club to help them find a way forward" and said that they would be putting together preliminary site surveys and discussions with the social club on site access, security and future options.
Everything looked positive for the club and consultations were held to gauge the feelings of the community. A local journalist, who attended the consultation, reported "I was also told that the social club would remain, but it may be re-sited in a new location."
Just a couple of months after that consultation the Social Club was shocked to be informed by Linden Homes that unless it can be demonstrated that it has appeal to the wider community, they did not intend to renew the social club’s lease beyond March 2011 and consequently this would result in the club’s closure. Linden Homes advised that they had carried out consultation and the feedback received from their "stakeholders" was that the social club was not regarded in the same importance by the wider community, as it was by its members.
Since that time, the club has been attempting to widen its already considerable role in the community, securing youth football teams, building on it's entertainment for younger people and offering it's services wherever possible, with free hall hire and more charity work. The club's own consultations, from feedback forms and online questions have already brought in many favourable comments and the club will continue to publish them on the website:
Linden Homes have now agreed to extend the lease to the end of May allowing the club to commit to a full season of winter skittles, and have agreed to work with a small group of committee members to look at ways of raising the club's profile and importance to the local community. However they have not given any firm agreement that even if this is successful, the club would have a guaranteed future.
Mardons Social Club's future hangs in the balance and we need everyone's support!”
Alcan Mardon Social Club, Nightingale Way, Midsomer Norton, Somerset BA3 4NL