A team of trustees has become the latest to be handed the reigns of a South Tyneside community centre in a bid to protect its future.
Council chiefs have given Brinkburn Community Association (CA) the green light to be managed by a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO).
Protesters had mounted a fight in a bid to protect the association over fears it could be closed and the area sold off to a developer after council chiefs revealed there was no more money to run the borough’s centres.
A number of meetings were held, backed by the groups using the facilities - some who have been attending sessions since the centre was created. The trustees had previously secured a 40-year lease for the building.
Now, as part of the community association asset transfer programme, the CIOs will lease the CA buildings from the council for community use.
The venue off Harton Lane, South Shields, now joins six others that have gone down a similar route to protect the centres and their facilities for residents.
We welcome the opportunity to take on the challenge of becoming self-sustaining.Penney Wilkinson
These are: Ocean Road and All Saints, both in South Shields; Hedworthfield, Low Simonside and Primrose in Jarrow; and Lukes Lane in Hebburn.
The news has been welcomed by chair of the Brinkburn Trustees, Penney Wilkinson.
She said: “We welcome the opportunity to take on the challenge of becoming self-sustaining.
“Brinkburn CIO has always worked with the Council’s priorities and will continue to do so, but we will also carry on asking our membership what their ideas are to make us sustainable.
“Can I thank our membership and local community for their support of Brinkburn CIO.”
Proceeding with the asset transfer to CIOs should ensure the financial sustainability of the facility; provide significant opportunities for growth and first-class services to residents, while maintaining a strong link with the council.
Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for culture and leisure, said: “As a consequence of government cutbacks in financial support, the council has had to consider new methods of delivery so that sustainable services can be provided for the people of the borough.
“Communities across South Tyneside have come forward to work in partnership with us to protect these valuable facilities.
“Becoming self-sufficient is the best way of ensuring that the Borough’s Community Associations are viable in the long term.”
As well as being able to raise funds through memberships, usage fees and lettings, the CIO will also be able to access external funding streams to make the facilities viable.
“This agreement follows months of positive and constructive discussion,” Coun Kerr added.
“It was never the council’s intention to close or sell the Brinkburn centre we always wanted to find a sustainable solution.
“I am delighted we have found a positive outcome for Brinkburn that works for everyone.”
The council are continuing to work with the centres in a bid to find a long term solution.