Councillors assess proposals for sites
The vast majority of council-owned centres around the town have already been handed over to the community or are in the latter stages of the process.
Park South Community Centre in Cranmore Avenue and Pinetrees Community Centre in The Circle have been the subject of high interest according to Coun Mike Bawden (Con, Chiseldon & Lawn), who is leading on the process.
Coun Bawden was not in a position to confirm the quality of the applicants, but said council officers will now go through the process of whittling down the list to three or four, which will then be passed to ward councillors.
“I haven’t heard a final number yet, but we are quite pleased at this point in time that we have had sufficient interest,” said Coun Bawden.
“In terms of numbers, which is a crude way of judging it, we do have a number of applicants.
“We want people who will come up with ideas. It might be a group of private individuals or a company interested in running it, two quite different alternatives.”
One group which won’t be a part of the process taking over at Pinetrees is the Pinehurst Community Centre Association (PCCA), which had been hopeful of putting together a strong bid last summer.
A lack of volunteers and a growing strength in rival groups put paid to the PCCA’s bid, according to co-founder Kathy Holland.
Kathy and friend Kerrie Payton had been working on building the group and attracting more volunteers with the ambition of taking over the management of Pinetrees.
In August there were seven members, including three ward councillors, backing the group, but that has dwindled.
“Our group is still me and Kerrie (Payton) really. We have been beavering away in the background; we did Halloween and Christmas activities, but nothing has really built momentum,” said Kathy.
“We were exhausted and had to take January off.
“We are resting on our laurels at the moment. We don’t feel as though we can make any plans while we don’t know anything about the future of the centre.
“No-one really wants that huge responsibility of helping us out formally and becoming a trustee. People might help out on the odd occasion, but too few are willing to come on board longer term.
“I just hope that whichever group does take over Pinetrees doesn’t take it away from the community and limit the opportunities we have been offering everyone over the past few months.
“You don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it.”
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