Gladiators ready for a fight

The Oxford Times: Sweet Memories members including Molly Stimpson, front, as a gladiator, and Christine Burden, right, are all putting in an extra 50p a week to keep the club going Sweet Memories members including Molly Stimpson, front, as a gladiator, and Christine Burden, right, are all putting in an extra 50p a week to keep the club going

PENSIONERS are donating their pennies in a bid to raise £1.25m to save their East Oxford social club from the bulldozer.

The senior citizens are each giving 50p to raise the cash to make an offer for Iffley Road’s Gladiator Club.

Its owners put the facility up for sale for £1.25m in September, but campaigners stopped the sale using new laws.

Oxford City Council listed it is an “asset of community value”, meaning the building cannot be sold for six months.

This is to allow community groups to raise cash to put together an offer, though owners The Gladiator Trust will have the final say on any sale.

The pensioners are giving an extra 50p on top of their £1.50 charge for the Thursday Sweet Memories Club.

Collections began last week and £70 has been raised so far.

Other members of the social club committee are seeking interest-free loans from members and looking into taking out a bank loan.

Coffee club founder Christie Burden – awarded an MBE for her work – said: “It’s not much, but every little helps. Members will be absolutely devastated if the club is sold. It is a lifeline for senior citizens.”

The trust last year requested the council review its decision to designate the venue as a community asset, but this was rejected in January.

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The Gladiator Trust was unavailable for comment.

City council leader Bob Price said the authority might be able to give social club members a grant of about £700,000.

He said: “We’re going to meet the committee next week hopefully to see what we can do to sort it out.”

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