Community groups which have used a village hall in Weymouth for several decades fear they could be could forced out following a shake-up of meeting times.

Two groups, The Preston Friendship Club and 50s and 60s Dancing Club, have spoken out after the owners of Preston Village Hall told them they would have to change the times they meet there.

It comes as the owners of Preston Pre-School, which also operate at the hall, applied to extend hours of operation to include Monday and Wednesday afternoons, currently when the groups hire the hall to undertake their sessions.

The Busy Bees, a craft club, are also affected by the proposals.

Jean Luffman, chairman of the 50s and 60s Dancing Club, said: “We have used the hall for more than 37 years on an alternate Monday afternoon.”

She claimed that there had been no issues until the chairman of the village hall committee said they would have to either swap to a time later in the afternoon or find somewhere else to go.

She added: “We hire the hall from 1.30pm until 4pm currently but they want us to move until 3.15pm however many of us don’t want to be finishing at 5.15pm in the afternoon, it’s too late.”

“I have tried other venues within the village however they have been unable to accommodate us so if we cannot resolve this issue then we are going to have to finish the group completely by September.”

Gail Salt, chairman of the Preston Friendship Club which meets on Wednesdays between 2pm and 4.30pm said the changes would now mean that the group would not be able to access the hall until 3.15pm meaning that the group would not finish until 5.45pm which she said was too late for members.

She added: “My understanding of the hall was that it was built by the people of Preston, not to become a commercial enterprise whereby all of the people that use the village hall will be pushed out.

“The village hall was given to local residents to use and not for use commercially like the pre-school.

She said members were very upset and worried about the changes which she described as “disgraceful.”

The decision comes after the hall committee held a meeting to discuss the issue with the leaders of the affected clubs who were also invited to voice their opinion.

The issue was brought up at another meeting of all the users of the village hall.

Barry Barnes, chairman of the Preston Village Hall committee, said the committee had helped all the groups affected as much as possible but there was only so much they could do.

He added that they needed to keep the village hall in a good position and that there were not enough traditional groups to keep the village hall going.

Mr Barnes continued: “I can understand the ladies’ concerns but it’s a very minor change for all of the groups.”

A spokesman from Preston Pre-School refused to comment on their plans when contacted by the Dorset Echo.