Fears grow that Omega arts sports and community centre in Portsmouth could close as sell-off plans drawn up
A CHARITY could sell a Somers Town community centre due to the high cost of repairs to the building.
Portsmouth City Council Elementary Education Foundation (PCCEEF), which is legally separate from Portsmouth City Council, has requested permission from the Charity Commission to do so.
Concerns have been raised about the move but the council has revealed it is considering buying it in order to ‘secure its future’.
The charity runs several centres across the city providing education and training services and distributes left over funds to causes supporting young children.
However, it has warned that grant funding would have to stop without the sale of the building.
‘The Omega Centre needs expensive repairs and maintenance now,' its legal representative Ian Clark said. ‘The cost means that if the Omega Centre remains PCCEEF property there are unlikely to be charitable distributions for several years.
‘The PCCEEF trustees have decided therefore that they want to sell the Omega Centre... Portsmouth City Council is a possible purchaser.’
This has been confirmed by the council's cabinet member for city development, councillor Hugh Mason.
‘If they [the trustees] decide to sell, it's possible that the council could buy the centre, with the goal of repairing the building and securing its future as a community space,’ he said.
He added that any purchase would need to be agreed by the council through its normal decision-making process.
Approval would also be needed from the Charity Commission which requested a consultation take place before it makes a decision.
However, users of the centre have raised concerns about the potential loss of a venue for arts and sports groups.
Douglas Davis, a member of the Omega Printmakers art studio, said the charity's decision was 'devastating'.
‘There are few venues within Portsmouth and the surrounding area that allow for the mixed variety of activities that reside within this wonderful building,' he said.
‘This building represents a lifeline to its users, be they artists or students seeking to enhance their education and lifestyle or the boxing club that must surely stabilise the lives of the young teaching them discipline and self-control.
‘Closing a valuable asset such as the Omega Centre would be a travesty.’