PARISHIONERS fighting to preserve St Paul’s Methodist Church claim a road closure bill from Oldham Council could push the grade two listed building closer to extinction.
A specialist firm has been enlisted at a cost of several thousand pounds to undertake a detailed, two-day survey of the church’s leaking roof.
But the work, involving use of a cherry picker on three sides of the historic site, would include the necessary closure of Chapel Street.
Shocked church officials have now discovered OMBC are asking for £2,508 plus VAT to shut the road.
“This work has to be done,” property secretary John Ashworth told the February meeting of Shaw and Crompton Parish Council.
“When we have carried out the survey we will have to make the decision whether repairs are done.
“That could entail the use of scaffolding which will be thousands of pounds on top of what we are considering at the moment.
“So, we are looking at a bill of around £10,000 just to close the road and survey the work.
“We are obliged to do something with. We cannot ignore it. However, it’s money we haven’t got,” added Mr Ashworth.
“There are holes in the roof where there is slippage. When it rains, it gets damp. That’s what we are trying not to make any worse.
“We have great difficulty funding this type of work with a diminishing membership.
“We are hoping someone can negotiate with the Council and try to find our why it is £2,500 just to put up a few bollards and shut half the road for a day.”
Councillor Shaun Duffy said: “It is a listed building and it would be a shame to see something happen to it. Could we draft a letter of support?”
Councillor Chris Stephens asked: “Is this (bill) just to close the road for inspection of the roof?
“Does that mean if you get funding for roof repairs there would be further cost for closing the road again and for a considerable period of time?”
A spokesperson for Oldham Council said: “The current costs for road closures are £800 for a five-day notice (work taking five days or less) and £2,090 for work longer than five days.
“There is also a permit charge to occupy the highway.”
St Paul’s, which celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2011, has made several unsuccessful bids for National Lottery funding at a six-figure cost to the church.
Failure to find money for repairs not only threatens the church’s existence but would impact on other users of the community facility, including a nursery.
“If St Paul closes because we can’t maintain the property everything else will be lost,” added Mr Ashworth. “So we have to keep it going.”
The first Methodist Sunday School in Shaw was held in 1811 on a different site.
By 1815 a Methodist chapel was built on the current Rochdale Road site and a foundation stone laid by James Cheetham. The building opened a year later.
A chapel was built in 1863 – closed in 1975 – and Sunday School in 1871.
After the Great War, St Paul’s raised £7,000 to build an Institute in memory of the servicemen who had served and died. It opened in 1925.