Open Day offers chance to save Horncastle Youth Centre

Horncastle Youth Centre. EMN-190716-091623001
Horncastle Youth Centre. EMN-190716-091623001

Campaigners leading the fight to save Horncastle’s Youth Centre building from closure are hoping for a bumper turn-out from the public at an open event tomorrow (Saturday, August 10).

The News first revealed details of Lincolnshire County Council’s plan to shut the centre next month.

The building is ‘home’ to a number of town-based organisations, including a youth club.

The shock closure announcement brought a stinging response from Horncastle town councillors who stressed they would be prepared to support a bid to secure the future of the building.

Town and county councillor Bill Aron and town councillor Dominic Hinkins are spearheading attempts to set up a community group to run the building.

The process comes as the county council defends its stance on the centre’s future and warns ‘substantial funds’ would be needed to carry out repairs to keep the centre open – including a new roof.

The county council also says it is talking to all the groups which use the centre about finding ‘alternative accommodation’ within the town.

Undaunted, Coun Aron and Coun Hinkins are calling on as many people as possible to attend Saturday’s open event which will run from 10am-1pm.

Coun Hinkins said: “The county council are allowing us to have an open event at the centre.

“This will be a chance for the public to look around the inside of the building and to see a short presentation on what is going on – and what we hope to achieve.

“Bill and I have looked around the building, looked at condition surveys and we are in the process of negotiating with the county council to allow the building to be kept open until the end of 2019, or later, while we put together our case.

“Until we get a reply on this specifically, we are preparing materials towards a business case so we can leap into action once we know it will be taken into account and once we have assembled a working group to put its name to it.

“The town council is still giving this its full support.”

At their monthly meeting in July, town councillors condemned plans to close the centre and questioned the amount of money required to keep the building in use.

However, in a statement, Kevin Kendall, assistant director for corporate property at LCC, said: “The county council hasn’t been using this building for some time. It is 120 years old and significant repair work, including replacing the original roof, is the only way it will remain safe and suitable to use.

“We don’t have the substantial funds needed to carry out the necessary repairs to a building we don’t use.

“The council is liaising with the local county councillor on this matter and waiting on a bid from a community group who are interested in taking over the building to run it themselves.

“In our opinion, it would still need significant money spending on the necessary repairs. We are having discussions with local groups who have been using the building to help them find alternative venues.”

No details of the size of the repair bill have been released.

At their meeting last month, town councillors blamed the state of the building on a ‘lack of investment’ and said they feared the site could be sold for housing.

Coun Matthew Wilkinson said: ‘nothing had been spent in the last 10 years’ while Coun Hinkins claimed whatever resources had been available had ‘been transferred to the coast.’