Fears mount over the future of community centre as rescue deal struggles

Brinkburn CA closure fears front from left trustees Colin Bourdiec, Coun Jim Foreman and Penney Wilkinson. Back business developer Simon Ripley and COAST Pat Hay
Brinkburn CA closure fears front from left trustees Colin Bourdiec, Coun Jim Foreman and Penney Wilkinson. Back business developer Simon Ripley and COAST Pat Hay
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The future of a South Tyneside community centre is hanging in the balance say trustees - despite offering council chiefs a compromise.

Members of Brinkburn CIO - a charitable incorporated organisation - had originally asked to be given land at Brinkburn Community Assolciation as part of plans for trustees to take over the running of the site.

The move was prompted after the council decided to pull funding for all community centres from April as part of cash-saving measures.

As a compromise, the CIO say they would take over part of the site - which would include the CA, part of the school and sports fields - leaving the rest for the council to do as it wishes.

A recent survey found that, on average, between 4,000 and 6,000 people a week use the building.

Penney Wilkinson, from the Volunteer Life Brigade said: “Everybody is feeling very despondent at the moment because we can’t get a clear indication from the council as to what they are going to do.

“Officers have been up and seen how much of the centre and the school we use.

“We can’t survive as a community centre alone. There are just too many people who use the venue.

“If we don’t have the facilities we have now, a lot of these groups will finish.”

She added: “For us to have any chance of surviving we need a long-term lease. Anything less and all they are doing is setting us up to fail.”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “We are still in the final stages of evaluating the bids for all the Community Associations.

“We recognise some of the issues raised and are working closely with the management committee at Brinkburn CA to agree an interim arrangement before deciding on the long term management of the site.

“Brinkburn Community Association occupies just part of the wider Brinkburn site and it is important not to confuse the two issues.”

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