Hellesdon Parish Council announces plans to take over community centre from charitable trust

Hellesdon community centre and Hellesdon parish council. Photo: Bill Smith

Hellesdon community centre and Hellesdon parish council. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2012

A row has erupted over the future of Hellesdon Community Centre, after the local parish council announced it is set to take over the premises.

A statement from Hellesdon Parish Council yesterday said they would take over the centre which has been run by the Hellesdon Community Centre Charitable Trust for 24 years.

The move would take place when the current lease expires in December.

Near 100 local residents attended a meeting of the parish council, expressing their frustrations about the future of the centre.

John Knowles, 70, chairman of the charitable trust said that legal process has begun to decide what the trust's response will be.

He said: 'I am very suprised that the move has gone ahead, especially with the amount of angry people who attended the parish council meeting.

'It seemed like the parish councillors went into the meeting with their minds already made up, as they failed to answer questions from residents on why they thought a change is needed.'

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The statement from Hellesdon Parish Council, said that it would be looking to work with the charitable trust to ensure a smooth transition, and create as little disruption to centre users as possible.

Hellesdon Parish Council chairman, Peter Balcombe, added: 'The centre costs Hellesdon council taxpayers over £90,000 a year and this is not sustainable. Full intergration of the centre into the parish council's hands will bring cost savings over the longer term.

'The Parish council is using nearly 25pc of its precept every year to help run the centre of which it has no control. Whilst the council meets the majority of the caretaking staffinf costs, all income arising from the centre is paid to the charitable trust.'

In response, John Knowles said that most of the income the trust makes is used towards improving and repairing the centre's building.

Mr Balcombe added that users of the centre will still be able to enjoy using the centre as they have previously done.

In November 2014, the parish council produced a survey with three options to choose on how the centre should be run in the future.

The survey left out the option of having the charitable trust continue to run the project from those options.

Hellesdon Community Centre was officially opened in 1959 by the parish council as a local hub for the community.

The centre is currently hired out to a wide range of community groups and organisations including everything from zumba classes to bingo sessions.

What do you think of the plans? Email Kieran.Lynch@archant.co.uk