FLEET PARISH COUNCIL: Outcry over hire charge for community centre
A Fleet Hargate villager has repeated her complaint about the “extortionate” cost of hiring its community centre.
Ex-parish councillor Joan Woolard claimed that it would cost clubs and societies in both Fleet Hargate and Fleet £10.70 an hour to use Hargate Community Centre, in Hargate Close, plus an extra £12.70 to use the kitchen.
Mrs Woolard first raised the issue in March 2017 when she took her complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, without any success.
During Monday’s parish council meeting held at the centre, Mrs Woolard said: “The cost of using this hall has been a very sore point for a very long time.
“It’s the only meeting place in the village but there’s an extortionate fee to use it.
“I think that it’s totally anti-social by South Holland District Council to restrict free-of-charge use of the hall only to people living in sheltered housing.
The cost of using this hall has been a very sore point for a very long time as it’s the only meeting place in the village, but there’s an extortionate fee to use it
“I have friends who live in sheltered housing, but I also have friends around the village as well and I think that Hargate Community Centre should be made much more available to the community of Fleet Hargate.”
South Holland District Council, which manages the centre, told the Spalding Guardian that hire charges included the cost of gas, electricity and water, “plus the general upkeep of the property, security, servicing of the heating system and boiler, fire alarms and other safety equipment”.
But Mrs Woolard said: “It’s an awful lot of money to find.”
Pastor Ross Dean, chairman of Fleet Parish Council, said: “The centre is available but we have to accept that there is a charge for its use.
“Just like any other public building, as I know with leading Fleet Baptist Church, there’s always a cost involved in hiring rooms because the building has to be looked after.”
Coun Gary Taylor, portfolio holder for communities and facilities, said: “South Holland District Council’s community centres are available for anyone to hire at a rate of £10.70 per hour, (commercial use is charged at £16.50 per hour) with an additional, optional and flat fee of £12.70 for use of the kitchen.
“We try to keep the cost of the facilities as reasonable as possible so that the whole community can enjoy them and we believe that these rates represent good value for money.
“Sheltered housing residents are granted free use of community centres, as are the organisers of any event to which a community-wide invite to all residents to attend is issued.
“The hire rates include the use of the space, chairs and tables, and of course other conveniences such as the toilets. The facilities team is available, if required, to grant access and to lock up the premises after use.
“Hire rates include the cost of all utilities used including gas, electric and water, plus the general upkeep of the property, security, servicing of the heating system and boiler, fire alarms and other safety equipment.
“The rates that we charge allow us to cover our own costs as well as ensuring the best use of public money.”
, allowing us to cover our own costs, as well as ensuring the best use of public money.”
• What do you think? Email your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org