We’ll fight to save our wee bingo hall

Pensioners outside their meeting room in Watson Street which is threatened with closure due to North Lanarkshire Council cutbacks.

Pensioners outside their meeting room in Watson Street which is threatened with closure due to North Lanarkshire Council cutbacks.

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Pensioners who meet weekly in Motherwell to enjoy a cuppa and a game of bingo are victims of council cost-saving cuts.

Their Watson Street venue - little more than a large room - is due to close along with bigger centres and libraries.

It’s been a meeting place for the last 50 years and this week the shocked old folk vowed to fight the closure.

The room is attached to North Lanarkshire Council flats. It’s still known as the ‘old men’s hut’ as it replaced another building when the street was re-developed back in the 1960s.

Women started their bingo sessions around 20 years ago and are now the only users.

Organiser Nancy Durnion said: “There’s nothing else for people around here. We’re here every Wednesday night and sometimes on Mondays too. For some ladies it’s their only night out of the week. We never ask the council for anything and money we make goes into the next week’s pot.

“We take our mess away and clean the place when we leave. It can’t cost much in heating and lighting. What else would the council do with the place?”

Many of the women who attend are from the immediate area, but some travel from Wishaw, Newarthill and other parts of Motherwell.

Helen McCarron said: “People have been coming here for years. It’s just for older people who don’t otherwise get out - they enjoy a blether, a cup of tea, some cake and a game of bingo.”

The pensioners plan to lobby councillors and a protest petition is being set up.

Culture NL manages the venue on behalf of the council. It says it’s had to make difficult decisions due to a cut in funding.

Councillor Heather McVey, chair of Culture NL, said: “We realise many of these facilities will be much-loved, but the reality is they are little used.”

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