MORE than 1,000 people have signed a petition to stop an activities centre and church in West Somerset closing.

The Dulverton Residential Centre, also known as the Exmoor Hostel, is run by the Clifton Diocese but it is planning to close the centre from the end of 2019.

The centre has been serving as a place for those wishing to use the rowing, canoeing and other outdoor facilities on Exmoor, or to come for a short retreat or period of reflection.

A spokesman for Clifton Diocese said: “In May 2019, the Clifton Diocesan Trustees took the decision to close the Dulverton Residential Centre, which is adjacent to the Church building, from the end of 2019.

“This decision was based on a number of factors and included the limited opportunities the facility provides to further the charitable objectives of the Diocese, as well as the disproportionally large capital costs required for external repairs to the building.”

As a result of the closure of the Centre and the potential impact on the Church, parishioners of St Stanislaus were invited to a consultation session on July 9, to consider the various options on how best to sustain a worship in Dulverton. The consultation is ongoing until September 1.

The Clifton Diocese spokesman continued: “Though one of the considerations may be the closure of the existing Church building, Bishop Declan has provided a clear commitment to the ongoing provision of a Sunday Mass for the Dulverton area, particularly due to the isolated position of the town and the very rural and sparse population in that part of West Somerset and the Diocese.”

However, the parishioners have formed a Dulverton Catholic Parish Action Group committed to reversing the diocese’s decision.

Chairman of the action group, Simon Roderick Rous, has worshipped at St Stanislaus’, for nearly 50 years.

He said: “The reality is that the diocese, with over 100 parishes to run, cannot be bothered with the responsibility of this remote rural parish, dwarfed by the demands of such centres as Bristol and Swindon.

“The Church and Centre buildings are so close that one cannot be sold without the other.”

A public meeting will take place at 11am on August 24 in the field with a marquee between Oldberry Lane and River Barle.