People power gives South Shields centre new lease of life

Brinkburn CIO have gained 40 year lease.
Penny Wilkinson
Brinkburn CIO have gained 40 year lease. Penny Wilkinson

People power has given a new lease if life to a South Tyneside Community Centre which was at risk of closure.

The new body in charge of Brinkburn Community Centre, in Harton Lane, South Shields, has been offered a 40-year lease on the building after it became one of a number under review as South Tyneside Council looked to save cash.

Showing support at a meeting on the future of Brinkburn Community Centre

Showing support at a meeting on the future of Brinkburn Community Centre

The committee, which set themselves up as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, wanted the long lease after submitting a business proposal - because that would make it easier to access cash from other sources.

They called on the help of the public to back their call - fearing the centre would not be viable without the long lease - and a petition was signed by more then 2,000 people.

Negotiations are still ongoing over the future of the sports fields and B Block on the site but the trusteessay they are delighted with the 40-year lease offer.

Chairman of the Brinkburn Supporters Group Penney Wilkinson said: “The council were quite taken aback by the support we received. We had over 2,000 signatures, videos of people showing their support and online signatures.

Everyone is over the moon and the support we have received has been fantastic. We can’t thank people enough.

Penney Wilkinson

“We are still in negotiations but to be offered a 40-year lease is fantastic news. Everyone is over the moon and the support we have received has been fantastic. We can’t thank people enough.

Penney added: “We have even had people who hadn’t used the centre before coming forward and supporting us. We have also seen an increase in the number of people using the centre.”

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

Coun Jim Foreman, who has been heavily involved in the campaign, said: “We have been told we have got a 40-year lease. We are still waiting on a meeting to discuss the future of the playing fields and B Block.

“Everyone is quite happy with the lease and if we don’t get B Block then we might have to adjust accordingly. But having the 40-year lease is huge step forward and brings us to parity with the rest of the CAs.”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “The petition was formally received at Full Council. In accordance with the requirements of the council’s constitution, a report will be presented to cabinet for consideration.

“Negotiations continue and we are working closely with the management committee at Brinkburn CA. It is hoped that a decision on the long term management of the agreed site location will be made by cabinet in the future.”