Legal threat over community centre sale

USERS of a much loved community centre have warned they may take legal action after council chiefs agreed to its closure to potentially pave the way for a multi-million pound swimming pool.

USERS of a much loved community centre have warned they may take legal action after council chiefs agreed to its closure to potentially pave the way for a multi-million pound swimming pool.

Earlier this month Babergh District Council's strategy committee voted to recommend selling East House in Hadleigh to generate capital to fund future projects in the town - which would mean the money could be used to replace its ageing leisure facility.

Yesterday at a meeting of the full council the plans were given the green light - despite fierce opposition from local councillors and user groups who felt they should not be forced to make a choice between two important services.

Last night, a spokesman for the East House Users Group said they had no choice but to consider legal action against the decision and may seek a judicial review.


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He said: “We are bitterly disappointed with the decision of the Babergh councillors. They were asked to vote on deeply flawed information.

“We would like to thank the four district councillors for Hadleigh for voting against the proposed sale and for their sterling work.”

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The future of East House was first thrown into doubt last year when Suffolk County Council announced it would no longer be able to lease the Grade II listed building from Babergh and would end its current agreement on March 31.

Babergh also said it could not justify the cost which meant the 29 user groups - including Hadleigh Community Playgroup, an after school youth club, the volunteer bureau, Hadleigh community support and the railway circle - were forced to seek alternative accommodation.

Now the district council has decided to sell the community centre in order to fund future facilities in the town - which could mean the money is put towards the cost of a new £3.25m swimming pool.

It has also agreed to sell Babergh-owned land that provides access to the proposed superstore site at Brett Works for the same purpose, while seeking to persuade the town council to relinquish its holdings in the same area.

Meanwhile when sufficient progress has been made the council will have the option to trigger a £30,000 feasibility study that will look at the viability of any new leisure facility.

Nick Ridley chairman of Babergh's strategy committee, said: “This is a really positive step forward as the decision allows Babergh to lay the potential foundations for a long-term solution for the leisure needs of Hadleigh and the surrounding areas and we are hopeful that the town council will decide to work with us to co-ordinate our efforts.

“Equally we are hopeful the remaining users of East House will continue to find suitable alternative accommodation. There may be a possibility for the continued use of East House by the remaining groups so long as their occupation of the facility does not cost taxpayers extra money and the council will be able to secure vacant possession over the short term.”

n The council tax rise for Babergh was also set yesterday at 2.7%, which is the rate of inflation. It means the average band D property will see an increase in their district council precept from £119.45 in 05/06 to £122.68 in 06/07.

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