A VILLAGE hall near Wantage has been closed and declared unsafe, a residents' group says.

East Challow Village Hall, which locals say has been at the heart of the community for almost 50 years, has a faulty roof structure, according to trustee Colin Moss.

Mr Moss says fundraising efforts will now begin to get the hall reopened.

Earlier this year it was noticed the top end of the gable wall was leaning outwards by about six inches, Mr Moss said, adding that the hall committee contacted the building's insurance company for advice before a structural engineer was appointed.

He added that the insurer has declined a claim on the grounds of faulty design, construction or using 50-year-old materials.

An inspection in mid-March led to the immediate closure of the hall.

In a statement, users the Friday Quilter group said: "As regular users of East Challow Village Hall, it is very sad to see such a wonderful local facility being closed, particularly in an ever expanding village where there are already very few facilities."