Russell Street Community Centre in need of a new team to run it
- Credit: Archant
An appeal has been made for a group of volunteers to come forward to take over the running of a vacant Norwich community centre – because the city council cannot afford to keep it.
The Russell Street Community Centre has been empty for more than a year, but could now become the first example of Norwich City Council using new powers to hand it over to the community.
The 1970s-built centre, off Heigham Street, closed in 2014, following the standing-down of the volunteer committee which had previously run it.
Last summer, Green city councillors lobbied the authority over the future of the centre. The council said, with budgets under pressure, a sustainable future needed to be found.
The authority believes it might have found a way to do that, by transferring management of the building to a community or voluntary group or organisation, through a process known as a community asset transfer.
That could see the centre leased to a community group or volunteer organisation at less than market value, or at a reduced or peppercorn rent, or even rent-free.
But the group which takes it over would be responsible for paying all outgoings, including utility bills, insurance and maintenance and repairs.
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While the centre is described as being 'in good overall condition' it is estimated that £22,000 worth of repairs will be needed over the next decade.
Keith Driver, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said: 'We believe that often, the way of making sure a community facility best serves the community, is by the community itself being in charge of it.
'This way, the community does not lose a facility the council cannot afford to keep.'
Letters have been sent to people living near the centre asking them if they would like to get involved in taking it over and the city council hopes the takeover will be complete by the summer.
People can find out how to apply by visiting www.norwich.gov.uk/communityassettransfer
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