Councillor calls for groups to help community centre survive

A COUNCILLOR has appealed to social groups, sports clubs and businesses to make more use of a community centre facing financial difficulties.

Red Hall Community Centre, based in Headingley Crescent, Darlington, has been at the heart of the local area for more than 30 years but is now struggling to make ends meet after losing its annual grant from the council.

Councillor Martin Landers, ward member for Haughton East and treasurer of the community centre, said the organisation has enough money to survive for three years, but needs to find new revenue streams by renting out rooms.

A group of volunteers, including members of a regular club that helps the over-50s to apply for jobs, gave the community centre a facelift at the weekend, using paint donated by Dulux.

Coun Landers said: “We’ve just completed a financial review and basically we’re in trouble. We’ve got three years worth of funding left in the bank at our current rate.

“Our income last year was £11,000 and our expenditure was £17,000. Up until last year we received a £5,000 grant from Darlington Borough Council and that helped to cover most of that gap. But now that grant has gone and it’s a huge chunk of money to lose.

“It’s not just us that has lost grants – a number of our permanent tenants, who contribute large amounts of our income, have also lost grants which mean they may have to leave.

“Painting the building this weekend was not just a nice thing to do. We want the place to be nice and appealing for people to come and use it, pay reasonable rates of room hire, and help save an important community asset.”

The community centre has a number of rooms available for hire, suitable for small groups up to conferences of 90 people.

The building has a sports hall suitable for dance and martial arts groups and keep-fit classes, and will also welcome social clubs and church groups.

Coun Landers is particularly keen to hear from businesses or GP groups who run training sessions and need to hire a room.

Red Hall Community Centre is open seven days a week, between 8am and 9pm. Rooms are available for £13.50 an hour. To book, or for more information, call 01325-462979 between 9am and 5pm.

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