Row breaks out over Jarrow centre’s equipment

Trustees Sandie and Terry Connolly with Henry Olsen at Jarrow Community Centre.
Trustees Sandie and Terry Connolly with Henry Olsen at Jarrow Community Centre.

A power struggle has broken out over £100,000 worth of gym equipment at a South Tyneside community centre.

In 2012 the Jarrow Community Association (CA), a registered charity, based at Jarrow Community Centre, was awarded a grant from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

The cash to buy a piece of equipment called Milon, which is used by the centre’s members,

However, due to a review of many of the borough’s community centres the trust is now dissolving and they want the equipment to be transferred to Boldon Community Association.

The Trustees of the association said that, three months ago, they gave notice of their lease and have until July 28 to remove their belongings from the centre in Cambrian Street.

But as members tried to organise the move yesterday morning, the council put a stop to it and the police were called.

Henry Olsen, a trustee, said: “The charity secured the cash for the equipment to be bought. It has nothing to do with South Tyneside Council, it does not belong to them. We are now in talks with Coalfields and seeking legal advice.

“We looked after this equipment and want it to go to a similar set up to ourselves, which is why Boldon was chosen.

“We had the removal men booked and everything was sorted for the equipment to be moved, but once I’d opened up and went in more senior council officials arrived.”

Council bosses say they’re now waiting for proof of ownership.

A spokewoman for South Tyneside Council said: “We have been in conversation with the Jarrow CA’s management committee for a number of months about this.

“We are currently waiting for a full inventory of items and proof of ownership from Jarrow CA. Once this has been received the council will be able to enter into meaningful discussions with the management committee based on the CA constitution. Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as just transferring goods from one building to another. We must respect the constitution and the need for local residents to continue to have access to the equipment that was secured for them. “

Andy Lock, head of operations for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust added: “We are aware of the situation with Jarrow CA and are working constructively with the organisation to try and reach a positive outcome.”