Volunteers who won a battle to save their community centre from being knocked down and replaced with housing were today handed the keys by the council.
Haywood Road Community Centre will now be managed by local residents after Gedling Borough Council formally handed over the lease to them at an event earlier today (January 31).
The centre had been earmarked for closure but the community formed an action group to save the facility and managed to persuade the council to keep it open and transfer ownership over to them.
Gedling Borough Council leader John Clarke and fellow councillors Gary Gregory and Bob Collis were today invited to meet with Paul Drury from Haywood Road Community Association and officially handover the lease to the property.
Councillor Gary Gregory said that although there had been many challenges along the way, he was glad the council had been able to turn the community group’s dream into a reality.
He said: “It hasn’t been an easy road to get to this point but the council and the community have worked really well together to get things sorted out.
“We’ve been able to advise the group here about things they didn’t even realise were needed for the centre like having the right insurance and making sure the boilers were up to the legal standard. I’m glad they could use our years of experience and I think it’s been a great help to them.
“We’ve also been able to point them in the right direction when it comes to applying for extra funding which will hopefully help them to achieve their plans for the future
He added: “It’s not a five minute process doing something like this as there are a lot of legal parts that have to come together, but it’s worth it because it’s for this community’s future.”
Council leader John Clarke said he was delighted that the centre was now in public hands.
He said: “I’m really pleased this has progressed. It’s been a long journey to get here but it’s been worth it.
“We were initially going to shut the place down but as a council we listened to what the community were telling us and now they have a great centre and the public own it. It’s a great news story.
“We own the park next to the centre, which we recently improved, so we will continue to work closely together with the people here to ensure everyone in this community has access to great facilities.”
It was recently revealed that Gedling Borough Council had suffered the worst budget cuts in the country, but Councillor Clarke today insisted that this wouldn’t stop the council from funding future projects to improve the borough.
He said: “We have got the worst settlement but you can’t go on moaning forever; you have to find new ways of funding things, which we are. We have a pet cremation service which is very popular and a very successful theatre. We are also looking at launching a direct funeral service to bring in extra money.
“I can promise you that myself and the team will keep working hard and thinking outside the box to find ways to bring extra money into the borough and offset having to raise taxes.”