Community centre’s future still in doubt

THE future of a community centre still hangs in the balance.

Last month West Hill and District Community Association, which manages the West Hill Community Centre, in Croft Road, issued a final call for volunteers to get involved in its running otherwise the facility would be condemned to closure.

Following the appeal in the Observer, more than 10 people stepped forward to offer their free time but the future of the lease remains in doubt.

The association had previously approached East Sussex County Council (ESCC) advising the authority it wished to surrender the lease within the next year as it was struggling to get hands-on committee members to help run the centre.

Edwin Rew, chairman of West Hill and District Community Association, said: “We had one group interested in possibly being more involved in running the facility a year ago but this has not materialised.”

Dave Hobden, the association’s treasurer, has run the centre almost single-handedly for more than 10 years and plans to stand down at the end of the year, Mr Rew said.

The land where the centre is based on is owned by ESCC. There is a break clause in the lease agreement saying the authority can take back the land if it is needed by Torfield School. There are several years left on the lease and West Hill and District Community Association can give ESCC six months notice to leave. Mr Rew said: “The county council is currently consulting with Torfield School to see whether the school needs the land back and a decision is expected to be made by the end of July. Until a decision is made we are in limbo.”

West Hill Community Centre opened in 1974, and was originally in use almost every day, but 40 years on, its popularity has dwindled. Karen Bowles, ESCC spokeswoman, said: “West Hill Community Association advised us it wished to surrender the lease within the next year. We are working with the association and Hastings Voluntary Action to ensure that the site remains in use.”