Complaint over hire charges at Fleet Hargate centre

Joan Woolard outside Barclays Bank, Holbeach
Photo:  SG240713-TW www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/buyaphoto
Joan Woolard outside Barclays Bank, Holbeach Photo: SG240713-TW www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/buyaphoto

A village hall in Fleet Hargate has been priced out of the use of community groups, it has been claimed.

South Holland District Council has been accused of unintentionally making the use of Hargate Community Centre “very restrictive” by charging groups at least £10.50 an hour for hiring it.

People wonder why it is called ‘Community Centre’ when so few of the local community are allowed in and we have no other hall in Fleet Hargate

Joan Woolard, of Fleet Hargate

The claim from ex-Fleet Parish Council member Joan Woolard was put to the Local Government Ombudsman by her to see if the district council could be investigated.

Mrs Woolard said: “Before 2011, tenants at sheltered accommodation in Hargate Close, Fleet Hargate, had free use of the hall and could also invite their friends to use it, provided they were in attendance as well.

“But the very restrictive use of Hargate Community Centre has meant that so few of the local community are allowed in.

“Hire of the hall is £10.50 per hour for non-profit groups, plus £12.50 for use of the kitchen.

“Clearly the exorbitant fees means that the building isn’t going to be used as much as it should be.

“People wonder why it is called ‘Community Centre’ when so few of the local community are allowed in and we have no other hall in Fleet Hargate.”

The complaint by Joan Woolard about hire charges for Hargate Community Centre was supported by Fleet Parish Council member Coun Eileen Gilliatt.

She said: “I created a group called Friends of Fleet with the intention of befriending people who had moved to the village over recent years, as well as existing residents, to add another social dimension to the area.

“However, the cost of using the centre for two hours was £45.50 which seemed much too high a charge.

“It is such a shame that we have such a lovely community centre but can’t afford to use it.

“A more reasonable fee should be charged for those wishing to support community spirit and involvement in the village.

“But when even residents of the sheltered housing accommodation like Joan can get no support, it seems there is no hope for us - especially when it seems that no one wishes to take responsibility for hearing our pleas.”

The Spalding Guardian contacted the district council for a comment but it was unable to provide one at the time of going to press.