New future for six South Tyneside community centres

Six community associations in South Tyneside will now be managed by charitable organisations.

Ocean Road CA is one of six that are embarking on a new way of working
Ocean Road CA is one of six that are embarking on a new way of working

All Saints and Ocean Road, both South Shields, and Hedworthfield, Low Simonside and Primrose, Jarrow and Lukes Lane in Hebburn, will now be run as Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs)

The move will see the the CIOs lease the buildings from the Council for community use.

As well as being able to raise funds through memberships, usage fees and lettings, thye groups will also be able to access external funding streams to make the facilities viable.

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.”

Each of the borough's community associations were asked to draw up business plans detailing the transfer of their assets.

The six business plans approved achieved at least a “good” rating when judged against the Council’s four key evaluation criteria (Vision & Objectives, Governance & Management, Delivery Plans and Finances).

The council say proceeding with the Asset Transfer to CIOs should ensure the financial sustainability of the facilities; provide significant opportunities for growth and first-class services to residents, whilst maintaining a strong link with the local authority.

A decision on the remaining facilities is expected in the coming months.

Coun Kerr added: “Against a background of reducing financial support from central government, we are trying all routes to keep these important community facilities open.

"It is still our ambition to keep as many CAs in operation on a sustainable basis as possible.”

The council continues to work closely with the management committees of all CAs. For those sites with outstanding issues interim arrangements will be put in place until a decision for the long term management of those sites can be made.