Published: February 5, 2007
Exclusive: Petition demands urgent changes at derelict Highbridge chapel

A petition signed by over 70 people demanding urgent improvements to a derelict Highbridge church is to be handed to the town's Mayor later today, Monday February 5th.

The Old Gospel Centre chapel in Newtown Road has suffered years of neglect since it became disused several years ago.

Windows and doors have been smashed, vermin and drugs needles have been seen inside, and vagrants are using it overnight, according to worried residents.

Now, residents say it is a "disaster waiting to happen" and are calling for urgent improvements.

Cllr David Poole, Burnham and Highbridge's Second Deputy Mayor, has met residents in recent days and organised a petition.

"A total of 72 people have signed it in just two weeks which clearly shows the strength of feeling," he told

"The building is derelict and unsafe. Its doors and windows have been smashed and rubbish dumped inside. There are often drug needles left inside and outside the building."

"And vagrants occasionally use it at night. Overall, its condition is a disaster waiting to happen."

"We are demanding that action is taken to brick it up - or that a compulsory purchase order be placed on it so that it can be redeveloped as a community facility."

The petition will be handed to the town's Mayor on Monday and Cllr Poole wants pressure to be placed on Sedgemoor District Council and Somerset County Council to address the problems.

"There's been no 'will' at district or county level to get something done. I'm hoping this petition will spur them into action."

The chapel's windows and doors have all been smashed and vegetation is starting to grow through the empty spaces.

When visited the building with Cllr Poole, a used drug needle was spotted in the undergrowth outside.

Old furniture, used tyres and electrical appliances litter the inside of the derelict chapel.

Local residents fear the derelict Highbridge chapel poses a fire hazard to homes in the vicinity.

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