Community centres rescue plans backed

COUNCILLORS have backed plans to transfer the running of two council-owned community centres which were facing the axe.

West View and Jutland Road community centres had been earmarked for closure under cuts by Hartlepool Borough Council.

But senior councillors have agreed plans to transfer the lease and running of the centres to established local organisations.

The cabinet committee backed the plans yesterday.

A joint bid by the West View Advice and Resource Centre and West View Project to run the West View Community Centre, in Miers Avenue, has been accepted by councillors.

Meanwhile, plans by the Owton Fens Community Association to take over the running of Jutland Road Community Centre were also backed.

But Throston Community Centre, in Glamorgan Grove, will be marketed for sale or lease after it failed to attract any interest.

Instead, the Throston Library next door will become the “community hub” once improvements are finished over the next two to three months.

A council report said the buildings were an “essential” community resource, while councillors said they were pleased with the expressions of interest.

It could also mean the organisations are less dependent on grants and become more sustainable by generating income from the centres.

Labour councillor Jonathan Brash asked who would actually own the buildings under the new arrangements.

John Mennear, assistant director of community services, said the properties would remain under the long-term ownership of the council and that the organisations would take them on through a long lease arrangement.

Labour councillor Pamela Hargreaves said: “I support these proposals and I hope that it brings a bit more security to the organisations involved.”

Labour councillor Ged Hall added: “We have two organisations that have expressed a willingness to work together. That is very much the way forward.

“We always do our best to support local businesses and organisations.”

The transfers, which should be completed by January 1 , will help create savings in this year’s library and community resource budget.

Meanwhile, the council will not be considering Owton Manor and Burbank community centres for transfer at this time but says it may revisit the issue later.