Stoke-on-Trent halls could yet be saved from closure
FIVE closure-threatened community centres could be saved after residents moved to take them over.
Talks are continuing between Stoke-on-Trent City Council and residents' groups to hand management of the buildings .
The future of halls in Bradeley, Smallthorne, Sneyd Green, Tunstall and Joiners Square will be discussed by cabinet members on Thursday.
Officers have recommended the council approves the asset transfer of the centres by March 31.
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Peter Yates, sits on the management committee for Joiners Square community hall.
The television engineer, from Coates Heath Street, Joiners Square, has helped pull together a business plan.
He said: "It has been quite a nervous time putting it together, but hopefully it will be approved by the council.
"We are optimistic and full of enthusiasm for the future of the hall. It will be nice to finally be in control of our own destiny."
Residents were told earlier this year to prove they can run the halls at a profit, including taking on responsibility for maintenance.
Committees which fail to submit an acceptable business plan will close on January 31.
The group hoping to run the centre in Community Drive, Smallthorne, has already handed in their business plan and also see it as an opportunity for the future.
Councillor Matt Wilcox, pictured below, who represents the ward, said: "Our key priority is to ensure the centre remains in the community and continues to deliver the important services it always has.
"While it is at threat, we see this as an opportunity and it is up to what the people do and how they respond to this.
"If we embrace it and put the hard work in then we can take the centre forward."
If successful, the volunteers at Smallthorne community hall are hoping to secure funding to improve the on-site facilities.
The council is considering three options for the future of the halls, including keeping them under local authority control, closing the halls, or encouraging committees to take over their running.
A report drawn up for this week's cabinet meeting states: "Option three would be the preferred option where the community hall committees produced a sustainable business plan that shows how they would operate in the future."
Where a community hall committee chooses to buy the hall, it will have to provide evidence that it has the financial resources to complete the sale and continue to operate the venue.
According to council papers, the proposals will save £106,000 a year through off-loading the centres and their maintenance and servicing costs.