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Closure fears over Hawarden community centre

Published date: 13 February 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A THRIVING community centre is in danger of closing due to a legal wrangle over insurance cover.

The possibility of Level Road Community Centre, Hawarden, closing was discussed at a public meeting at the venue last night.

Ahead of the crunch meeting the centre’s single remaining trustee, Cllr Kevin Jones, said unresolved issues over the terms of centre’s lease with owners Scottish Power meant the situation was becoming untenable and a “line had to be drawn”.

Following the death of former chairman John Kettleway last year, Cllr Jones said attempts to recruit new trustees had been difficult after confirmation that trustees were financially responsible for the building.

“On a personal level, I can’t keep the liability,” said Cllr Jones.

“If there was a problem structurally outside of what is covered by the insurance, then Scottish Power could come to the trustees to cover the cost.

“It seems crazy the community centre’s at risk and that we might have to close not because of cutbacks but because of a legal argument.”

Cllr Jones said the centre, which is used by a range of community groups and people of all ages, had been in operation for at least a quarter of a century.

Slimming World, woodcraft, painting and acting groups, as well as a new bonsai tree club, are among those currently meeting regularly at the centre.

“It’s more popular than ever and has no financial problems.”

But he said all attempts to agree terms with Scottish Power had proved fruitless.

“I’ve got emails going back to the middle of last year. It just goes round and round and there comes a point where you have to put a line in the sand.”

 Cllr Jones added: “Do we close the hall? And if we don’t, are we going to set up a new management committee to make sure we don’t close?”

Scottish Power estates manager Donald Paterson said the company was trying to find a solution to the situation.

“There’s no desire to take the facility away. It’s about finding a practical solution. It’s not easy but we’re looking at it.”

Mr Paterson said Scottish Power was happy to limit the trustees’ building maintenance liability but said other issues needed to be considered.

“They will be in occupation, and they have to have some responsibility for keeping it safe. There’s all sorts of health and safety issues. Our concern is that they’re adequately insured and meet all the requirements.

“We will try to get back to them in the next couple of weeks and we don’t want to cause them any issues, but they have to take responsibility for people using the centre.”

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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