LOSING a busy community centre would be ‘disastrous’ for a town.
That’s the view of people who use the Leigh Park Community Centre in Dunsbury Way.
It’s terrible that it’s come to this. If we lose the community centre there is nothing to replace it. It would be absolutely disastrous for Leigh Park.Ruth Bettle
Following rising debt and lack of income from the bar – which was run as a limited company as part of the community centre association and closed just before Christmas – the trustees have taken the decision to wind-up the association.
It has entered compulsory liquidation and the keys have been handed back to Havant Borough Council, which owns the building.
Temporary measures have been put in place by the council to keep it open in the short term.
Around a dozen groups use the centre, including Havant Citizen’s Advice, Mind and the charity Big World Impact.
Ruth Bettle runs the Age Concern luncheon and friendship clubs which bring almost 100 people to the centre each week.
She said: ‘If it closes we will have to pack up. There is nowhere else we can go. It is so central for everyone. The bus stops right outside.
‘It’s terrible that it’s come to this. If we lose the community centre there is nothing to replace it.
‘It would be absolutely disastrous for Leigh Park.’
Four employees are expected to be made redundant.
Councillor Yvonne Weeks, who is in charge of community at the council, said: ‘We have been working to find a solution that will cause as little disruption as possible, to ensure this facility is well managed and remains open to provide services to the community.’
Hampshire County Council recently agreed a £17,000 grant to the association to cover wages but, in light of the winding up, it has been withdrawn.
County councillor Frank Pierce, who sits on the culture committee, said they would welcome another grant application once the situation is sorted out and the centre is up and running again.
Councillor Terry Hart, who is a trustee, said: ‘The centre is too big for its volunteers to run it.
‘The bar got into difficulty before Christmas and it was running at a loss.’
The centre has had several managers over the years and it relies on volunteers.
Cllr Hart added: ‘They were trying to manage a very complex business and deal with employees and utilities.
‘They are good people from the community expected to run a business.
‘The idea is not to close it but the trustees have taken the decision to enter compulsory liquidation.’
A source told The News the council is hoping an established charity will step in and take over the running of the centre.