Row over future of Hellesdon Community Centre

Hellesdon community centre. Photo: Bill Smith

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

A row has erupted over the future of Hellesdon Community Centre, after the charitable trust which has run it for 24 years said it was not included as an option for residents to choose in a survey about how it should be run.

Hellesdon Parish Council is currently consulting with people in the area about the future of the centre, in Middletons' Lane, which is currently run by Hellesdon Community Centre Charitable Trust working in partnership with the council.

The council has asked people to complete a questionnaire which outlines three possible options for its future.

While one option is for the council to 'partner with other experienced organisations to manage the centre', the trust argues that few local people realise the centre is run separately from the parish council and could choose the first option for 'the parish council to run the centre itself' under the misapprehension that this would be a vote for the status quo to continue.

John Knowles, of HCC charitable trust, said: 'This would be misleading and inaccurate.

'We believe that the results of this questionnaire cannot reflect the true wishes of Hellesdon people.'

The current lease for the centre is due to expire in December 2015, and the not-for-profit trust says it has tried unsuccessfully to meet with the council to discuss the continuation of the lease.

Mr Knowles, who said the trust wanted to work with the council to bring down the cost of care-taking at the centre, added: 'We own all of the furniture, the majority of the fittings and the assets of the centre. In recent years our investment in improvements has exceeded £100,000.' He added that the busy centre is used by a wide range of groups, and this year it is planning to offer a free Christmas Day lunch to people in Hellesdon who would normally spend the day alone.

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The parish council, which said it spends more than £100,000 per year on the centre, said everybody's views will be taken into account and to help inform the final council decision to be made in February 2015.

A spokesman said: 'Hellesdon Parish Council welcomes this opportunity to provide the community with further information regarding the review of the lease arrangements of the Hellesdon Community Centre.

'We are in the middle of a public consultation and wish to hear the views of Hellesdon residents. It is important to note that no final decision has yet been made regarding the future management arrangements for the centre and the parish council confirms that everybody's views will be taken into account during the preparation of the various business cases which will be developed to help inform the final Council decision to be made in February 2015.

'However the final decision will take into account the need to ensure value for money, meeting local need and fully supports the delivery of the council's future objectives.'

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