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Last Updated: Friday, 23 May, 2003, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
Congregation wins chapel fight
Salem Chapel
The row over the chapel's future caused rifts in the community
Worshippers who battled against the closure of their chapel have won their fight to have it reopened following a ruling by a former judge.

The doors of Salem Chapel in Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd near Ruthin in Denbighshire were locked early last year after concerns over spiralling running costs.

The congregation were unhappy with the Vale of Clwyd Presbytery's decision and held their own services in the village hall, refusing to transfer to a sister chapel in Ruthin.

However, an independent panel, chaired by a former crown court judge, has ruled the closure was not appropriate and the chapel should reopen.

During the appeal, angry chapel members appeared before the panel which was held behind closed doors, at a four-day hearing in Bangor earlier in the year, and its decision has now been published.

Community

Campaigners, who kept the chapel and graveyard in order and spent 2,000 of their own money on a redecoration programme, welcomed the decision.

"I am naturally delighted that the panel found in our favour and look forward to welcoming everyone back to Salem in the near future," said chapel deacon Wyn Edwards.

However, he said it was important that the whole matter was now not put behind them and people worked together to ensure Salem Chapel's future success.

The row over the closure has caused a major rift in the community and even led to a resignation in the chapel committee.

The secretary of the presbytery resigned, saying he was on the side of the parishioners.

It was estimated that up to 18,000 needed to be spent on refurbishments to meet safety regulations.

Graveyard at Salem Chapel
Members have looked after the chapel and its graveyard

But many of the chapel goers claimed not enough was done to explore other options to keep the venue running.

They also said insufficient notice was given before the final decision to shut the chapel was made.

The presbytery had insisted the congregation were fully consulted and there was a democratic vote.




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