Row breaks out over com­mu­nity room con­tract

Macclesfield Express - - LOOKING BACK - STU­ART GREER

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

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