South Shields community group says red tape hold-ups have cost it Â£100,000 in funding
A community centre is stuck in a Â£100,000 limbo because long-running lease talks with the council are blocking investment, its bosses have claimed.
Leaders at Brinkburn Community Association in South Shields say they are missing out on vital funding because council chiefs are dragging their heels over making the centre their own.
They insist the problem would be solved if South Tyneside Council signed a planned 40-year lease, handing the building to them.
They have already missed out on a £73,000 grant because they do not possess the relevant legal paperwork - and they claim thousands of pounds more is going begging for the same reason.
The process started in April 2017, but has still not been completed.
Centre treasurer Coun Jim Foreman said: “It’s very frustrating. We want to be doing the best we can for the community and our customers, but we feel we can’t push ahead.
“As a councillor, I know the council’s officers are busy and that some have been lost due to austerity, but I still feel this could have been handled differently.
“We are in desperate need of this lease. We are not in any danger of closing, but are using some of our own money.
“Until we can apply for these grants, we are in survival mode. We are having to be very creative, and we could be employing more people.
“We feel very frustrated at not being able to go for the big grants which would really bring us up to a good standard. If we could get that funding, we’d get even more people coming through our doors.”
Around 6,000 people a week use the centre in Harton Lane, which is on the site of the former Brinkburn Comprehensive School.
Part of the derelict school building is currently being demolished, but the CA has retained a large slice, including a swimming pool, former main hall and gym.
Since last year, the centre has been managed by the Brinkburn Charitable Interest Organisation (BCIO).
Fields which are used mainly by dozens of football and rugby teams affiliated to the CA are not owned by it.
Improvements needed for the CA include new windows for its community hall and revamped gym changing rooms, at projected costs of £23,000 and £15,000 respectively.
South Tyneside Council said it was involved in the proposed asset transfer of a number of buildings within the borough to organisations providing community facilities and/or library services.
A spokeswoman added: “Brinkburn Community Association is one of the properties where a transfer is proposed, and we are working with Brinkburn CIO to finalise terms with the intention of then putting a long-term lease in place.
“There has been a change in trustees within the CIO earlier in the year, which has led to a delay in this process. However, we are hopeful that positive progress can be made over the coming months.”