Croydon town hall was alive with the sound of music as dozens of singing protesters gathered to object to the two-year closure of Fairfield Halls.

Campaigners packed into the public gallery and overflow rooms last night to hear a debate on the venue’s future that had been triggered by an 8,000-strong petition calling for a phased closure of the complex.

Last month Croydon's Labour council confirmed the ageing Fairfield would close in July for a £30m revamp.

Andy Hylton, who leads the Save Our Fairfield campaign, told councillors the “cost of getting back” Fairfield’s reputation and the expertise of 70 full-time staff after a two-year closure “will far outweigh the cost of a phased refurbishment”.

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Protesters waved a forest of luminous yellow placards and sung Fairfield, Heart of Croydon - a reworking of Land of Hope and Glory written by Croydon Symphony Orchestra conductor Darrell Davidson - as they queued in Katherine Street ahead of the meeting.

Although forced to give up the placards on entry, protesters remained in full voice in the council chamber.

Mr Hylton argued two years was “a long time in the lives of Croydon’s young people” to be without a quality arts venue in the town centre, words that were met with thunderous applause from the gallery and Conservative councillors.

Timothy Godfrey, cabinet member for culture, commended protesters for their “passion” but continued to defend the need for a two-year closure.

But Lynne Hale, his Conservative counterpart, described the redevelopment plans as “still far too airy fairy” and asked why a report into the project by consultancy firm Mott MacDonald had not been made public.

Protestors joined in the loud roar of “ayes” from the Conservative benches as opposition councillors voted to support the petition, which called on the council to scrap plans for a full closure.

After the Labour-controlled chamber defeated the petition, campaigners filled the room with another rousing rendition of Fairfield, Heart of Croydon.

One protester shouted: “Welcome to the Soviet state of Newmanopolis,” while Mr Hylton could be heard denouncing the council leadership as an “autocracy.

RELATED: Two-year Fairfield Halls closure paves way for £750m 'cultural quarter' 

Another took a Labour councillor to task for his apparent ignorance of one of Thornton Heath’s most famous musicians, yelling: “Shame on you Stuart, you called Stormzy a band.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Hylton remained undeterred and pledged campaigners would continue to fight to keep the venue open.

He said: "We continue to push for a phased development, and that a new temporary theatre venue could be installed in the town, so that Croydon Council can protect revenues, save jobs and develop the audiences, with performances continuing whilst redevelopment is underway.”

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