Parish councillors reverse clerk’s “high handed” hire charge hike for community centre

Hellesdon community centre and Hellesdon parish council. Photo: Bill Smith

Hellesdon community centre and Hellesdon parish council. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2012

A church congregation who meet every Sunday morning at Hellesdon Community Centre have had a large increase in the hire charge removed after pleading with parish councillors.

Since the parish council took control of the community centre in January, rates for hiring the hall have increased from the affiliated rates offered by the charity formerly in charge of the centre.

And after advising the council they would be taking six weeks away from the centre due to low numbers, on June 29 Meadow Way Chapel were informed by the parish clerk they would no longer be eligible for a discount through their ex-affiliated rates, due to take force in September.

The move would have meant instead of paying £100 for the hire of the centre, the church would face paying £395.

David Southgate, elder at Meadow Way Chapel, produced a letter to the parish at the full council meeting last night asking for the decision to be reconsidered. 'The clerk said when we come back in September we have to effectively sign a new contract, which has never happened before,' he said. 'A lot of things have changed since the parish council have taken over the community centre. 'There used to be an affiliated rate for the people of Hellesdon, which was cheaper for the people that used it regularly, and the council have now come up with a new set of rates. 'We have the whole community centre for our service on a Sunday morning, and we have been using it for seven or eight years. We have a big input in Hellesdon and a passion to serve the community.

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'My question really is who runs the parish council? Is it the clerk or is it the parish councillors?'

Councillors admitted the decision was not one they agreed with and voted to reverse the actions of the clerk.

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District councillor Tony Adams, for Hellesdon South East, said: 'The clerk has delegated powers when it comes to the community centre. I am not saying I totally support the clerk but her reasoning is you book the rooms all the way through that period, therefore they were not available for hire. 'She was of the view you had broken your contract by cancelling those bookings. I think perhaps that was a high-handed decision.'

Mr Adams and chairman Shelagh Gurney suspended the clerk's decision when they learnt about it. 'It is the sort of thing that is going to cause some controversy,' said Mr Adams. 'She should at least have discussed it with the chairman of the council.'

Councillor Richard Grady proposed in the interests of all users for the hire rate to be removed, which was passed unanimously. Meadow Way Chapel will return to ex-affiliated rates from July 1.

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