Fears over Leigh Park Community centre as charity suffers cash crisis

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FINANCIAL problems have hit a community centre that provides vital services for people on an estate.

The charity that runs Leigh Park Community Centre, in Dunsbury Way, has asked Havant Borough Council for a £40,000 loan in a bid to solve its money woes.

But councillors voted against handing out the loan as they believe it would only be a short-term solution for the Leigh Park Community Association.

The centre provides a variety of activities and is also home to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Mind in Havant, Leigh Park and Warren Park Good Neighbours, Havant Day Services and the Meet and Eat Café.

The council, which owns the building, has insisted the centre will not close and it would be prepared to take over the management for the short-term to keep services going if the charity folded.

Cllr Mike Fairhurst, who is in charge of economy and community issues, said: ‘My understanding is they are not breaking even.

‘Month by month they are struggling to pay the bills and they forecast they will be severely in the red by the end of the financial year.’

He defended the council’s decision not to give the association £40,000.

‘They have not yet paid back the last loan we gave them,’ he said.

‘We don’t feel giving them £40,000 will necessarily solve the problem.

‘What we need to know is that however these services are provided in future, they will be sustainable.’

He added: ‘We are determined to keep services going in that area.

‘The association has been running for many years. If they can’t continue then we are absolutely determined to find a way to keep these services going.’

He said the council would continue to employ an administration officer as well as a caretaker.

But Mary Edney, association chairwoman, was hopeful the financial troubles would be resolved.

She said: ‘It’s all coming together. We have had a really positive meeting and there will be solutions. The centre is definitely not shutting – that’s for sure.

‘But we need to look at everything. We are working very closely with Hampshire County Council as well as Havant.’