Historic community centre handed over

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VOLUNTEERS have taken over the running of one of the biggest community centres in North Yorkshire, after council chiefs decided to wash their hands of the building to save £40,000 a year.

Hambleton District Council members have this week accepted the cabinet recommendation to transfer the operation of Northallerton’s Hambleton Forum to the newly formed company, The Forum (Northallerton) Ltd.

The local authority has agreed a grant of £70,000 to support running costs of the centre, £22,000 to invest in new cinema equipment and promised to ensure the building is in good order before it is officially handed over.

The newly incorporated company - which takes over next week - has a board comprised of local people, mostly from groups that regularly use the forum.

Coun Peter Wilkinson, cabinet member for leisure and health, said: “I’m on record before saying how extremely impressed with the enthusiasm, effort and quality of the work that has been put into this process by local people.

“That the group has organised itself and formed new company ready to take on the service from August 1, is equally impressive.

“It underlines their passion and willingness to ensure the facility is preserved for the local community and it of course allows the council to make long term savings.”

The community centre, the biggest in Hambleton, was opened by the council in 1975 and is used by 16 groups including theatre societies, fitness classes and local clubs.