CROSS Catholics hope the council will help stop their church from closing.

The congregation at SS Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church, Chipperfield Way, St Paul's Cray, have been told it is going to close at Easter.

Their parish is being merged with St Mary Cray to form a new one, which they believe will be called The Cray Valley parish.

But they do not understand why the church has to close.

The parish dates back to the 1948 and the church was built in 1964 after parishioners raised money to replace the hut used for worship.

Campaigner Geoff Prendergast says parishioners did not get a chance to give their opinions about the Southwark diocese's proposal before a decision was made.

They are now trying to get this decision reversed.

Mr Prendergast, who has been going to the church since it opened, sent a petition with 110 signatures to the Archbishop of Southwark Kevin McDonald.

Mr Prendergast, of Midfield Way, St Paul's Cray, wants the decision deferred until a meeting between him and parishioners takes place.

But the 70-year-old says this request has not been granted.

He said: "It was built and paid for by the parishioners, then the diocese decides it is going to knock it down.

"I would like the Archbishop to retract the decision because I think it is a mistake."

Mr Prendergast now hopes Bromley Council will help to make the diocese rethink its decision.

At the time of going to press, he and other parishioners were due to meet with council planning staff to see whether closing the church would go against the borough's unitary development plan.

This sets planning policies for Bromley.

Part of this includes making sure there are accessible, good-quality facilities where residents can worship.

The parishioners believe closing the church will go against this council policy because it is the only Catholic church in St Paul's Cray.

Monsignor William Saunders, speaking on behalf of the Archbishop of Southwark, said: "The condition of the church is very poor and professional advice indicated it was not viable to build a new structure.

"The viability of two small parishes is difficult to sustain in the long term.

"Obviously there will be a sense of loss.

"It is going to be a new future for them."