Row breaks out over community room contract
AV O L U N TA R Y group has accused a social landlord of using ‘bully-boy’ tactics during a row over the use of a community building.
For many years Peaks and Plains Housing Trust has allowed groups to use Astle Court Community Room in Chelford for free.
To bring health and safety rules up to date, the trust is now asking groups to sign a formal agreement or they will have to pay to use the building.
The move has been slammed by Chelford Tenants and Residents Association (CTARA), a user of the facility who say they have been ‘pressured’ to sign the agreement.
Tim Pinder, chief executive of Peaks and Plains, has denied the claims.
David Kent, secretary of the CTARA committee, said the two organisations are at loggerheads over the proposals, adding: “There has never been an agreement between the trust and CTARA for the management or running of the community room, which has been used for the last 23 years. The committee is worried about the legal implications of signing a form which makes a small band of volunteers legally responsible for the room, its activities and those using it.
“We feel we have been pressured to sign the agreement and told if we don’t we have to pay per hour to use it which we cannot afford. We feel the trust has used bully-boy tactics. The committee has worked tirelessly on behalf of the whole community to give Chelford what is has today, a wonderful social diary which has combated loneliness for many older persons, some of whom would probably die of loneliness if they were left stuck at home.”
As well as CTARA, which won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service this year, the room is used by Age UK Cheshire East, Chelford Players and Chelford Parish Council.
Tim Pinder, chief executive of Peaks and Plains, said: “We recognise the tremendous work done by CTARA over the years and Peaks and Plains has supported them with substantial funding to help them deliver a wide range of activities for the local community.
“We were grateful that they identified a lack of clarity regrading responsibilities for managing the community room at Astle Court, and as a result we drew up an agreement making the respective responsibilities clear and have made repeated offers to discuss this with them over a number of months.
“Unfortunately all these offers have been refused, but that offer still remains should they change their mind.
“In the meantime we have in no way limited the groups’ use of the room, it simply needs to be booked in advance.”
●● David Kent, secretary of CTARA, has criticised the move
●● Youngsters from Macclesfield Youth Brass Band’s Training Band