Friday, 5 June 2015

No threat to Whitton Community Association – Richmond Council Confirms

Council Officers and Cllr Susan Chappell, Cabinet Member for the Voluntary Sector and Communities, met with key members of the Whitton Community Association last week to make clear that the Council has never had any intention of withdrawing its support for the well-loved local resource.

Following a stream of unhelpful rumours regarding the future of the Association, Cllr Chappell, along with senior Council officers, met with officers of Whitton Community Association to lay their concerns to rest.

Whitton Community Association has occupied their current building for 40 years and is one of a few community organisations locally who have historically not paid rent to the Council, in effect receiving a subsidy for their rent.

Last month, it was reported in the local press that the Council would be withdrawing its funding from the Centre, thereby putting its future into doubt. However, this is completely untrue. 

In 2011 the Council carried out a review of rent subsidies and agreed a new policy that would aim to provide a level playing field for funding of all voluntary sector organisations, rationalising historic rent subsidy arrangements.  Now, the Council is working with voluntary sector organisations like Whitton Community Association to agree the services they will provide on behalf of the Council and for what price.  The amount the Council will pay will cover the costs of their accommodation.  This change means that their overall level of funding will not change, only the mechanism by which they are funded.

Cllr Susan Chappell, said:

“I understand that this has been an unsettling time for the Whitton Community Association. There have been many rumours, casting doubt into their future. However, I will say this categorically, to put an end to these completely unfounded rumours once and for all. We are not cutting any funding at all for this well-loved service. It will not be closing and it has never been under threat. In fact, we are working more closely with the Association to see how we can deliver even more local services to ensure their long term future.”

Officers of the Whitton Community Association, added:

“Great news all round.  The Whitton Community Association remains a much valued part of the community and the issues surrounding the changes to our rent agreement have been resolved.   We are also in the process of renewing our lease on the Community Centre for a further 15 years.

“Small changes will need to be made with regard to the changeover from rent subsidy to commissioning but overall it will be business as usual.”

“It is reassuring to have the Council’s intentions in writing and we are finally able to scotch these rumours of closure once and for all.

“We very much appreciate the positive feedback we have received from the Council with regard to the services we provide for the local area.

“We are now able to plan for the future and we look forward to increasing these services."

We are planning an open day at the Centre in the Autumn, everyone is welcome to come along and help us celebrate the future.”