Hartlepool community centre closes as charity funding dries up

A Hartlepool community centre has closed for the foreseeable future as the charity behind it says funds have run dry.

By Mark Payne
Friday, 01 February, 2019, 05:00
Jutland Road Community Centre.

Jutland Road Community Centre, which ran a number of services for the local community, has closed its doors.

The Owton Fens Community Association (OFCA), which operated the council-owned building, says it took the decision due to funding difficulties.

Jutland Road Community Centre.

OFCA chairman Yousuf Khan said efforts were being made to find new sources of funding, but in the meantime the centre is closed.

Mr Khan said: “As a committee we decided to close the centre and hand the keys to the council.

“We have no funds to run the centre. We are struggling since last year.

“At the moment it has been decided to close down the centre because we are looking for funds.

“If we get funds very well, if we don’t then we will have to decide [what will happen].”

The community centre in Jutland Road provided a base for projects and services including a youth club, community kitchen, job searches, meeting space, and a hall for hire.

Mr Khan added: “I’m not happy about it. We hoped to organise martial arts classes, but they didn’t run.

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“We used to run Christmas parties and Christmas dinners. Gradually it has decreased so we can’t afford the rates.

“Funding cuts are happening with most charities in Hartlepool. All are struggling.”

OFCA also run an urban farm in Summerhill Lane.

Mr Khan said a decision on its future had not yet been taken.

An annual report of OFCA’s trustees for the year ending March 2017 showed the charity had a total annual income of £76,522 and an expenditure for the year of £71,474.

The previous year’s income was £64,407 while expenditure was £70,572.

The report stated: “Sources of funding were once again significantly reduced and attempts are being made both to expand the opportunities available, and to work, where appropriate, with other local voluntary sector partners to maximise outputs and outcomes.

“We were still able to offer services to many residents during the year and this was due in no small degree to the efforts of a dedicated team of volunteers.”

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesperson said: “Owton Fens Community Association (OFCA) has an agreement with the council to operate Jutland Road Community Centre which has been in place for a number of years. The council’s Strategic Asset Management Team which is responsible for the building, has not been informed by OFCA that it intends to hand back the keys, but if that is indeed the case then consideration will need to be given to the options for the future operation of the building.”