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Three of four councillors reallocate funds
A WAR of words has broken out between councillors over funding to upgrade facilities at a town’s leisure centre.
Ferryhill Leisure Centre reopened as Ferryhill Community Hub last summer following a community takeover after it was closed by Durham County Council.
Volunteer directors say the centre is making enough money to stay open but they had hoped to secure neighbourhood budget grants from four county councillors.
But money from three - £20,000 each from Coun Brian Avery and Coun Charlie Magee and £5,000 from Coun Christine Potts- now looks destined for other projects.
Gordon Elliott, head of partnerships and community engagement, said: “We can confirm that the councillors’ budgets have been agreed in principle for other projects.
"However, it’s at the discretion of the councillors how to allocate their neighbourhood funding as long as it is linked to emerging issues and priorities in the Four Together area.”
Coun David Farry, chairman of the Hub, is still awaiting approval by the council’s funding team to give £20,000 of his neighbourhood budget to the venue.
He said: “They’ve gone back on their word and it is absolutely disgraceful.
“Councillors are there to work for the betterment of their community, 3,500 people signed a petition to save the centre and it is the biggest project in the area but they’ve put no money in.
“The Hub won’t fail without their support but it would have enabled improvements to make it more user friendly.”
Coun Brian Avery has earmarked funds for roof repairs at arts group Enter CIC’s base in Ferryhill, a healthy eating project and a new history group in West Cornforth and a PA system at Hutton House, Chilton.
Coun Avery, who warned the Hub team what would happen back in October, said: “It is his fault, Coun Farry has missed board meetings and questions about his own funding application are still unanswered.
“If his hasn’t been approved yet there is no way ours could be done in time so we’ve all put other projects forward for the money now.
“There are groups and projects ready to go that need money and deserving of it so we’ll use the opportunity to support them.”
Coun Magee said his budget was available to the Hub but new projects have emerged since he first supported the centre.
And Coun Potts has put forward schemes to regenerate the bowls pavilion and a youth club in Chilton.
She said: “I’ve kept the £5,000 I said I’d contribute when the centre was facing closure right up until the last few weeks but we cannot dilly-dally.
“The money will now go to recreation facilities that will really benefit Chilton.”