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Ferryhill charity asked to take over Hub
VOLUNTEERS who took over a former council-run leisure centre could abandon plans to seek charitable status and instead turn to another group for help.
Ferryhill Community Partnership was given the keys to Ferryhill Leisure Centre last July following its money-saving closure by Durham County Council eight months earlier.
The council’s agreement was originally with the community partnership but Hub volunteers intended to run the venue independently and become a charity in its own right.
But the Hub’s application to the Charity Commission has not been approved and its concerns are understood to relate to businesses operating within the centre.
A Charity Commission spokesman said: “All charities must be established for exclusively charitable purposes for public benefit.
“The Commission was not satisfied from the information provided in the application that Ferryhill Community Hub had demonstrated it is established for exclusively charitable purposes for public benefit.”
She said that registration could be pursued if the applicants provide additional information that satisfies the commission’s concerns.
Now its directors have all but given up on that idea and want to remain under the umbrella of the partnership, of which they are all also officials.
Hub directors want to invite representatives from the venue’s users, such as a bowls group and boxing gym, to join the partnership and help run the centre as an arms-length management organisation.
Secretary of both organisations, Brian Gibson, said: “We hope the partnership trustees will become trustees of the Hub and it can be embraced within the partnership.
“That way we (the Hub) don’t need charitable status.
“It will be more democratic because at the moment only the three directors can make decisions about the Hub and we’d prefer users to be involved.
“It will also be easier to access grants.”
A special meeting of Ferryhill Community Partnership has been called to discuss the issue at Dean Bank Literary Institute tomorrow (Friday, February 21), 7pm.
Durham County Councillor for Chilton, Brian Avery, has raised concerns about the move fearing it would jeopardise the future of the partnership.
Coun Gibson said any concerns about the impact upon the partnership, set up in 2001 with a broad remit of improving the town including recreational facilities, can be raised at Friday’s meeting.