Plans to sell Community House leave trustees 'appalled' - The Redditch Standard

Plans to sell Community House leave trustees 'appalled'

Redditch Editorial 26th Jul, 2022 Updated: 27th Jul, 2022   0

TRUSTEES of Community House were left ‘shocked and appalled’ after they claimed they were unaware of any council plans to sell the building and relocate organisations.

Redditch Borough Council have made the decision to sell the Community House building on Easemore Road to make way for development.

Committee members were told by officers that tenants of Community Housing had approached the council about alternative accommodation due to concerns about the building’s state of repair.

However, the trustees claim it was in fact the council that approached them.

In a statment, a spokesperson for Community house said: “We only ever asked about repairs to the fabric of the building. The VCS organisations here want to stay and have not requested to move.

“The charities and community groups based here have not been offered alternative accommodation, been consulted properly or been supported to look or, until now, even realised they needed to.

“We have challenged some of the costings of the £340,000 repair bill presented to the Scrutiny committee, but more fundamentally the Council would pay less than half – the leaseholders, RCNT & Gemini Dance Centre, our neighbours on the site, pay the rest if we are still here.

“To say the bill to the Council would have been £340,000 is just not true.”

At the full council meeting on Monday, parents and children representing Gemini Dance School that are based at Community House on Easemore Road protested against the decision.

Karen Jones, trustee of RCNT and Manager of Home-Start, one of the charities based in Community House, said: “This decision completely ignores the value of the charities and groups based here.

“It’s a slap in the face for people who really need support, and shows how out of touch the Council is from the communities it is meant to serve.

“If Councillors had made the slightest effort to understand exactly what Community House gives back to local residents they’d never have made this judgement.”

A Council Spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the Community House Building and associated land at Easemore Road was declared surplus to Council requirements at the meeting of the Executive held on July 12, and that it will now be sold at market value.

“Lead Officers are currently preparing an additional briefing note which will detail the timelines of discussions held between all parties involved in this process, including council officers, tenants with temporary leases, the VCS groups and other users of Community House which had taken place in advance of the decision.”

Coun Matt Dormer, Leader of the Council, said: “I am looking forward to receiving the briefing note which will enable members of the Executive to understand the issues and statements which have been made surrounding Community House.

“We will of course continue to work with users and VCS groups to explore all options which are available going forward. We hugely value the important work which is done by the voluntary community sector and will do our upmost to ensure they all continue to thrive in our town.”

Speaking on behalf of Redditch Labour Group Coun Sharon Harvey said, “The conduct of the Conservative group is sadly a perfect example of how they dislike being held publicly accountable. They conduct business behind closed doors and they refuse to listen to residents who disagree with their decisions.”

Coun Bill Hartnett added: “As chair of Overview and Scrutiny committee I led a thorough scrutiny of the report on Community House.

“There was a lack of clear information and we agreed a cross party recommendation to defer the decision. The Tory Executive chose to disregard this and resolve the item.”

Redditch Conservatives have said in a statement that they are shocked that the Labour Party has incited such behaviour in the Council Chamber.


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