End in sight in for councils’ five year row

Focus: Penwortham Community Centre in Kingsfold is the focus of a row over lease terms
Focus: Penwortham Community Centre in Kingsfold is the focus of a row over lease terms
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A row which has seen district and town councillors at loggerheads for more than five years could soon be over.

Penwortham Town Council locked horns with “bosses” in South Ribble after the umbrella authority refused to alter the lease on Penwortham Community Centre.

The building, in Kingsfold , was a public house until it was bought and refurbished by South Ribble Council, It is now used as a base by the town council and is also a focal point of the community, providing facilities for a variety of local groups and organisations.

Problems developed after the town council wanted to hire out empty rooms to local businesses but was told it couldn’t under the terms of its lease, unless it paid half of the takings to the district council

Liberal Democrat councillor David Howarth said: “It costs the town council £30,000 just to open the front door but it is an excellent facility. Vandalism is down and since it became a community centre it has improved the area.”

He added that there were also issues with the building insurance, which have caused arguments and led to repairs not being done.

Mr Howarth said: “We have a rolling lease and although we pay a peppercorn rent it costs £30,000 just to open the door and if we want to sub-let the rooms they ( South Ribble) want 50% of the rent, even though we are already subsidising them. We have been running around in circles getting nowhere.”

Now though the issue has again been discussed by the town council and Penwortham Town Manager Steve Caswell said a solution is imminent.

He said: “We are attempting to sort out the lease in order that issues such as the insurance and responsibility can be resolved and also the issue of sub-letting office space, which we can’t do at the moment.

“Ongoing discussing are taking place and feel we will be reaching a solution very shortly.