Thursday, 5 January 2012

Pierremont Park Community Centre

By Cllr Matterface - Beacon Road Ward, Broadstairs

Nearly a decade ago Broadstairs & St. Peter’s Town Council came up with a scheme to build a community centre, a scheme that has divided the community it was intended to serve ever since.

The location for the centre, Pierremont Park, a town-centre green space, would be changed beyond recognition by a large building, the loss of mature trees and open space, creating a financial burden for the council taxpayer for many years.

A trust was set up, trustees appointed, funding won and lost. The scheme still proved controversial since many residents of all backgrounds objected to the whole approach of the plan.
An amended plan in two phases was agreed by the TDC planning committee. A £500000 loan from the Public Works Loan Board was taken out even before a lease was agreed at an annual cost to the council taxpayer of £35000. Together with the annual rent and rates this would equate to more than 25% of the town council’s precept. Funding from both TDC and KCC has been promised and rolled over several times.
 A section 106 from the Hereson School site has been signed but the terms of that agreement and the proposed lease have not been made public so I cannot comment with any accuracy on those. The trust asked for a 99 year lease since funding would be impossible, it seems, with anything less. This would mean the land would be lost to the public more or less indefinitely.

Since the scheme was first thought of much has changed nationally and locally. New schools have up-to-date facilities. Churches have modified their premises and halls and the GAP Project at the Baptist Church is up and running. All this makes the community centre unnecessary and a financial burden for the council taxpayer for decades to come.
There are times when with any project there is a point when we say ‘enough’s enough, let’s cut our losses and move on’ and that time is now. I am asking the cabinet to refuse to award the lease for any period as the centre is unnecessary, too expensive to run and of doubtful viability.

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