Big bail out for drop-in station

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THE fledgling Holbeach Teenage Drop In Station has had a massive bail out from South Holland District Council with its annual rent slashed from £4,500 to just £10.

Lower than expected numbers of teenagers using the centre housed in the old council depot on Fleet Road meant the struggling TDS volunteers still owe more than £2,000 for the first year’s rent, ending in June this year.

The decision to slash the rent was made by Coun Howard Johnson, South Holland’s portfolio holder for economic development, commercial assets and strategic planning.

A report prepared by council property asset manager Richard Scorthorne said TDS would quit the site if the authority refused its request for a peppercorn rent.

Mr Scorthorne says the depot proved difficult to let until the TDS and a boxing academy signed five-year leases.

He said it might again prove difficult to let and closure of the TDS would mean the loss of a community facility.

Mr Scorthorne goes on to say if the TDS left the council would then pick up the bill for £7,300 business rates.

Holbeach Parish Council members expressed delight at the district council’s decision.

Chairman Coun Rita Rudkin said: “The facility is still going to be there for a remarkable reduction in rent.”

District councillor Nick Worth – one of the volunteers manning the TDS – said numbers of teenagers using the centre were far fewer than first estimated.

Originally they were to be charged £5 a year with an additional small charge for each attendance.

But the TDS is now free and rather than being a drop in centre it is used for more structured events, such as guitar classes.

He said: “We are trying to provide more structured things.”

Other courses in the pipeline include literacy and numeracy – skills to enable youngsters to find jobs.

Opening times will vary course by course.

The TDS has pledged to pay back the £2,000-plus rent owed for the first year.

Coun Worth said: “It has taken a bit of pressure off just having to pay £10 rent.”