Centre cannot run on fresh air

WITH reference to Peter Mortimer’s letter (News Guardian, August 4) where he stated that “it would have been nice if the centre (Cullercoats Community Centre) could have actively supported him (Mr Allonby, who hired the centre for the recent public meeting to discuss best use of the council’s £1m allocation for the regeneration of Cullercoats) instead of charging him a hire fee, which had to come out of his own pocket”, Cullercoats Community Association would like to make the following points:

The centre is run by Cullercoats Community Association, an independent Registered Charity (No 506945) and receives no funding whatsoever from the council, the centre having been built in the early Eighties with money raised and volunteer labour provided by the local community alone.

The running costs, which are not inconsiderable due to steadily rising energy bills and maintenance, are covered entirely by hiring out the facilities to individuals, businesses, community groups and organisations like the council and Mental Health Matters.

As much as the association wholeheartedly supports discussions on the regeneration of our community, the centre itself unfortunately cannot be run on fresh air.

Mr Allonby was asked at the time of hiring if he represented a registered charity or constituted community group and said no, he was hiring the centre as an individual and was told he would therefore have to pay the going rate.

It may come as a surprise to Mr Mortimer but the community centre does in fact support its local community by providing free use of the facilities for charities such as the local RNLI and also holds free Local Heritage Open Days, which involve a huge amount of volunteer hours to organise.

We have also put on free bus trips for the older members of the centre with money from our own funds.

The committee and our many volunteers are currently working hard to raise the extra funding needed to renovate the ageing infrastructure, both by our own efforts (summer and Christmas fairs, monthly table top sales and coffee mornings) and also by putting in applications to trusts and foundations.

This will help ensure the centre is open for many years to come to service the needs of the many local user groups.

Mr Mortimer suggests that another meeting is needed to further discuss the plans.

Whilst the centre would be happy to host however many meetings are deemed necessary, we would urge him or any other individual wishing to organise them to consider the costs and resources involved in facilitating these meetings.

We would like to thank all those people who have helped us by their selfless volunteer efforts and financial contributions over the years and ask that they continue with their vital support so we can in turn continue to provide these facilities for the benefit of our local community user groups for many years to come.

FRANK GILLENDER

Centre Manager

(on behalf of the committee)