Sheringham community centre celebrates first year, but seeks more users
- Credit: Archant
Sheringham's £1.5million community centre celebrated a belated official opening, organised by the town council to encourage local people to take advantage of its state-of-the-art facilities.
The Tesco-funded Holway Road building, which was owned by Norfolk County Council before being bought by the town council for £173,000, has a main hall with audio visual equipment and sprung floor, as well as two fitted kitchens, four second floor rooms, an outdoor area and parking for 40 cars.
Since opening in October 2012, the centre has hosted dozens of parties and events, also becoming a base for more than a dozen local organisations, from art, music and fitness groups, to sports, health and youth clubs.
But the council committee in charge of its running says that, while the centre was not expected to make a profit, more needs to be done to build up usage and increase income.
'We are thrilled with the number of people using the community centre,' town mayor Tricia Brooks said.
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'But, it has taken us two or three years to fully grasp the running costs and we do need to get on a more economical footing.'
The large number of other Sheringham venues available for hire – including the Lighthouse Church, the sports pavilion and Oddfellows Hall - meant the centre was unable to charge 'realistic' fees, Mrs Brooks added.
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And unforeseen maintenance and development costs – including buying a shed to store short mat bowls equipment, investing in fencing to be used for advertising hoardings, and installing spikes to deter pigeons – had meant annual costs had been difficult to quantify.
'There were lots of things we didn't realise, for instance the maintenance of the lift,' Mrs Brooks explained.
'But although the chances are we will never completely cover costs, the positive thing is that the centre belongs to the people of Sheringham and the number of people using it is building up all the time.'
Long-serving Sheringham councillor Mac McGinn, who is chairman of the community centre committee, was instrumental in having the town's first community centre built in 1968.
He said that, with 260 new houses due to be built in the area surrounding it, the new building, which was designed following consultation with local people, had a bright future.
'We do have a lot of competition but as a former youth and community officer, I think places like the Lighthouse are doing a very good job and, because there is so much building going on in the area, I think the centre will eventually end up being in the heart of the community,' Mr McGinn added.
Visitors to the official opening were a given a guided tour of the building by town councillors.
They were also treated to a slice of community centre-shaped cake, cut by Mrs Brooks and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.
'I have already been to several events here, I think it is wonderful for the town to have such a fantastic facility and it is a great honour to be asked to do the official opening,' Mr Lamb said.
To find out more about Sheringham community centre events and venue hire, visit www.sheringhamcommunitycentre.co.uk