TOWN COUNCIL UNABLE TO FUND STONE YOUTH CENTRE

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In December 2014, the Town Council submitted a bid to operate the Stone Youth Centre building as a community centre. This was due to the decision of Staffordshire County Council to close the open access youth club in Stone and to cease operation of the Youth and Community Centre building.

The purpose of the Town Council’s bid was to ensure the continued availability of the Centre for both existing users and potential future users of this valuable community facility.

The Town Council were expecting to subsidise the operation of the centre by around £23,000 per annum. Reductions were made in other areas of the Town Council’s budget to accommodate this without increasing the Town’s share of the Council Tax.

Extensive discussions have been held with the County Council with a view to the Town Council entering into a five year lease to operate the Centre. As these discussions have progressed, however, more information has become available which has increased significantly both the potential cost and the risk to the Town Council. At a meeting on 4 June 2015, the Town Council reluctantly accepted that, as a small organisation with a very limited budget, it could not afford to take on the level of cost and risk now anticipated and asked the Town Clerk to go back to the County Council to attempt to re-negotiate the terms of the lease.

Unfortunately, it did not prove possible to arrive at an agreement which was both acceptable to the County Council and in which the level of cost and risk would be manageable by the Town Council. On 2 July 2015, therefore, the Town Council decided to withdraw its bid to the County Council for operation of the Youth Centre building.

General Purposes Committee Chairman, Councillor Rob Kenney, said

“I am disappointed that the Town Council has been unable to secure the future of the Youth Centre building, but unfortunately the level of cost and risk involved in accepting the lease being offered by the County Council was too great for an organisation the size of the Town Council. It would have resulted in both an unacceptable level of increase to the Town’s share of the Council Tax and a severe limitation in the funds we would have had available for other developments within the town.

The Town Council already operates both the Frank Jordan Centre and the Stone Station Community Centre and we will do our best to accommodate any current Youth Centre users that would like to move to one of these facilities”