Last orders have been called at the Stratford Club, but club president Brian Jeffares says it isn't a permanent closure.
We have known for a while that we were going to be saying 'time gentlemen please' at some point, so have been proactive in looking at our options before the final drinks were served.
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On Friday, Brian informed club members that the doors were to close after what he describes as "a slow couple of months trading over the Christmas period".
To have stayed open, says Brian, "would have been irresponsible given our current trading position and we didn't want to be in the position of not being able to pay our bills in the future".
Brian says neither he nor any of the board members wanted to see the club, which has been trading since 1908, close permanently. "So we have been working behind the scenes for some time looking at ways in which the club can survive. An option which has found favour with our members is the idea to join with the TET Multisports Centre, and a working party to discuss this was formed late last year."
The working party consists of representatives from both the Stratford Club and the Stratford Community Sport Society (SCSS) as well as councillor Graham Kelly who is the Stratford District Council representative.
Bruce Cleland, chairperson of the SCSS, says the working party has been considering how a potential merger would work for both organisations and what it would possibly look like when it came to use of the actual space at the TET Multisports Centre.
"It would be fair to say, on behalf of the committee, that there is a strong desire to continue along this route, to work towards a proposal that would suit both groups and benefit the community as a whole."
One benefit, says Bruce, is being able to be ensure the Clubs New Zealand 2016 North Island Ladies 8 Ball Tournament is held in Stratford. "This will bring lots of people into the town for the event, so it is good for the whole community not just members of the Stratford Club or the SCSS."
Brian says Clubs New Zealand have already agreed to a change of venue for the tournament, to be played in April, as the Stratford committee approached them at the start of the merger discussions.
While we are closing the doors of the club building for now, I am positive that the Stratford Club will continue to exist in Stratford in some way.
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"Right now, we are looking at the options and are excited by the possibility of merging with the TET Multipsorts Centre."
The TET Multisports Centre is currently going through the process of getting an alcohol licence, and Brian says until that comes through, the Stratford Club will open its doors on Friday evenings "to allow our members to continue enjoying their Friday tradition of a drink with friends".
"As soon as we have that licence, we are looking forward to welcoming Stratford Club members to our facility," says Bruce, "and in the meantime they are, of course, welcome to come and enjoy a meal and soft drinks at our restaurant, as are all members of our community".