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Community centre to reopen soon - but controversy still surrounds it
8:30am Friday 18th April 2014 in News
Eric Pickles MP and Louise McKinlay outside the centre with residents and building firm representatives
A COMMUNITY centre is nearly ready to be reopened - but former users are still angry over it’s original closure.
The Hutton Community Centre which has been at the centre of a £165,000 renovation project run by Brentwood Council is due to come back into use at the end of April.
Refurbishments being carried out to the building in Harrison Close, Hutton, include repairing the toilets, the main hall and cafe areas.
Council leader Louise McKinlay said there is a real “feelgood atmosphere” about the centre.
The Conservative said: “We have strong support from the residents who want to see the centre open again and I’m pleased that we are on target to make that happen.”
However, former members of the centre are still upset with the buildings initial closure in 2012.
Bosses at the council took over the venue after feeling it had fallen into a state of dilapidation and required work.
During a recent site visit by Brentwood and Ongar MP Eric Pickles, a large group of users stood outside the gates with no entry sign placards.
Andrea Bowers, who was the licencee at the centre for four years, claimed the Hutton Community Association were “hoodwinked” into handing the lease over to the council.
Mrs Bowers, who is the Lib Dem candidate for Hutton East at the upcoming local elections, said: “I think this is all just propaganda before the elections.
“I do want to see the place open again, but questions remain unanswered like why when we asked for financial help the council they said the couldn’t help but then they find the cash for this project?
“They have sold other community facilities in recent years and wouldn’t be surprised if this is sold in a few years.”
Louise McKinlay, leader of Brentwood Council, said: “You only have to look at the project to see that it is positive for the community and we want to put this at the heart of the community.
“When we have spoken to locals, many were not happy about how it was run before and how they felt unwelcome there, but hopefully once it reopens it will become a popular place for the community again.”