Community centre bid gets cash boost

FUNDRAISERS in a market town are celebrating after a last-minute cash appeal for a new community centre netted more than £56,000 in just 10 days, The Framlingham Community Centre Trust set up the Bridge The Gap appeal towards the end of August after Government department Defra refused to help, leaving residents just three weeks to find £100,000.

FUNDRAISERS in a market town are celebrating after a last-minute cash appeal for a new community centre netted more than £56,000 in just 10 days,

The Framlingham Community Centre Trust set up the Bridge The Gap appeal towards the end of August after Government department Defra refused to help, leaving residents just three weeks to find £100,000.

Trust secretary John Lockyer said they had hoped Defra was going to award them £125,000 towards the venture, but at the eleventh hour it withdrew the grant.

Because some of the grants have timescale restrictions imposed on them, it meant the trust had just three weeks to find the shortfall for the £950,000 project.


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If they raised the money in time they would be able to instruct their architects and move towards finding a contractor, said Mr Lockyer.

He added: “Grant providers do not want their money just sitting around doing nothing. It is a condition of the gift that the work starts on the community centre at the beginning of 2007, but we would not have been able to do that without the money in place.”

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After Defra's news the trust scaled back the scheme, identifying cost savings but it still left them with a £100,000 shortfall for the facility, which has been in the pipeline for about six years.

Mr Lockyer said yesterday: “When we set up the fund we were cautious about how successful it would be, but we decided to go for it anyway.

“We are delighted with the response. We set it up only about 10 days ago and yesterday we had £50,000, today we have another £6,000 and there are a number of organisations and businesses which have not returned their forms.”

While champagne corks are not popping yet, the trust feels it is very close to succeeding, said Mr Lockyer.

But he said time was running short to take up other grants, including £290,000 from the Lottery and £300,000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

“We have got to spend the money. The lottery has already been very kind and granted us extensions but the European Regional Development Fund money has got to be spent in 2007, so we have got to fill a substantial money gap to go forward. We now have the confidence to move forward and instruct our architect,” he said.

He added he hoped a contractor would be appointed before the end of the year.

A spokesperson for Defra said: “We do not comment on rejected applications. The details of applications are treated as confidential.”

She said a full explanation would have been provided to the applicant as to why they did not receive funding.

It is envisaged the centre would be at the heart of the Framlingham community, providing facilities for social, welfare and business activities that could be used by local residents of all ages and attract visitors.

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