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Ferryhill councillors decide £20,000 grant for The Hub would be too risky
VOLUNTEERS who took over a former council-run leisure centre a year ago have had a bid for thousands of pounds turned down.
Ferryhill Community Partnership asked Ferryhill Town Council for £20,000 towards running costs of the facility, which it took over last July following its money-saving closure by Durham County Council eight months earlier.
Before the application was considered on Wednesday, there was a debate about whether those councillors who are also Partnership members should be allowed to comment and vote on the funding bid.
When the chamber was split, Mayor Ken Campbell used his casting vote to rule that Councillors Brian Gibson, Melvin Brown, Dennis Allen, Tommy Garrett and Peter Atkinson should be excluded.
The remaining members were told that Coun Gibson, as secretary of the Hub, had asks the council for a £20,000 grant instead of a bank guarantee as agreed last January.
Clerk Derek Snowball said conditions put in place then had not been, including allowing a chosen town councillor to sit on its board, and details such as how the grant would be used and management information had not been provided to support the latest application.
Mr Snowball said: “I have to carry out a financial risk assessment if any significant amount of money goes anywhere, there has been insufficient information to do so with this request.”
He advised members to reject the request because it would not be an effective use of taxpayers’ money for the Ferryhill community as a whole.
But Coun Denise Richardson said: “There are a heck of a lot of people who use the Hub and I think the majority of people in Ferryhill would prefer it to be supported by this town council.”
Coun Joe Makepeace said: “We have an opportunity to keep this facility viable and should have the wherewithal to do so for the people of Ferryhill.”
But Coun Pauline Crathorne said: “The town council has offered on many occasions to support The Hub but Coun Gibson has turned us down.
“We haven’t budgeted for this and it would be £20,000 of public money that they would not pay back.”
Members voted eight against offering the grant and four in favour.
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