Fears for future of community centre amid land sell-off worries

Fears for the future of a South Tyneside community centre have re-surfaced over claims council chiefs could sell off the land it stands on.

Wednesday, 25th January 2017, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 25th January 2017, 7:57 am
Brinkburn Community Centre

A public meeting has been called for all centre users of Brinkburn Community Centre in South Shields on Monday.

The move has been taken to help keep people updated on the work of the committee as they desperately try to safeguard its future after the council announced it would be pulling the plug on funding at the end of March.

The centre, in Harton Lane, has been providing a range of community facilities since 1977 and is used by over 6,000 people per week.

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Along with other community associations, its committee was tasked with putting together a business plan on how the centre could be self-sustaining.

The committee claim council chiefs are now dragging their heels over making the final decision which could see the centre being handed over to the newly formed Brinkburn CIO.

Other options could also include: Full or part transfer of the property to Brinkburn CIO on a lease agreement; Brinkburn CIO manage the property on a management agreement; or Demolish Brinkburn, sell the land for development and build a new build centre.

Penney Wilkinson, Chairperson of Brinkburn CIO said: “We have prepared for the transfer from the council and completed all tasks as they requested, and now the council have backtracked stating they are looking at other options including demolition and selling the land for housing. The centre is valued and well used by the local community and we can’t lose this facility for current and future generations’.

“The staff directly employed through the local authority has been notified of redundancy and the committee are unable to commit to key decisions due to lack of assurances from the local authority. Because of this the committee has called a public meeting to notify our members and the community of the situation.”

Last year, the council announced they would no longer fund the borough’s community associations in a bid to save cash.

A review was ordered to identify the centres which could survive without a subsidy, those which could be run by other organisations and those which are not viable.

Those officers, believe will not survive on their own could be closed.

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “We are not back tracking and are currently still in the process of evaluating all the bids.

“However, it must be noted that the Brinkburn Community Association occupies just part of the wider Brinkburn site. It is important not to confuse the two issues.

The public meeting is open to everyone and will take place at Brinkburn Centre, on Monday at 7pm.