Community House could be saved with a trust

Community House. Wisbech. Picture: Steve Williams.

Community House. Wisbech. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

A trust looks set to be set up to oversee a Wisbech community centre and the idea rolled out to help people in deprived areas across Fenland, according to councillors.

Severe budget cuts led to fears that Community House would close, losing a skill mix of staff and volunteers who have been delivering family events and support at the Southwell Road for 11 years.

The house is a centre for career advice, family groups, provides a community meeting place and even runs a budget laundry service.

But Fenland District Council says it can no longer to fund the venue so instead is looking at pulling together a team of people to set up some form of trust or social enterprise group that can run the centre.

The trust model could then be copied and used to take the community centre idea into March, Whittlesey and Chatteris.

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Mike Cornwell, portfolio holder for communities, said: “A body other than us needs to access funding and provide services who understands the community with assistance from us.

“We need to get other people interested in taking this forward. It is not our responsibility to provide this.”

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But councillor Virginia Bucknor said: “In our corporate objectives it says support vulnerable members of the community and promote health and well being - which means places like Community House are our remit.

“I am delighted with the work officers have done in moving this forward to protect Community House long term but hope it is a lesson for the future so if big decisions are made local councillors are made aware of it rather than us finding out from social media as was the situation in this case.”

Mr Cornwell said services were cut to the bone but a working party would spend 2015 joining up with interested parties to run the house, which has 13 volunteers helping out at a cost of £37,320 for paid staff, and a further £12,520 in running costs.

Cllr Cornwell said: “This is not just a Wisbech problem, its bigger and will get bigger as our problems develop.”

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