A public meeting before Christmas agreed a constitution for Freshbrook Community Centre to allow new management to reopen the building.
Once the charity commissioners approve the new organisation, Swindon Council will agree a new lease and user groups can move back in – probably in March or April
The centre was closed by the council in September when charitable status was removed from Freshbrook Village Group which had managed the building since May 1984 because accounts had not been submitted for six years.
Now a group of volunteers have stepped up to the plate to take responsibility for managing the building for past users and new groups.
Thirty people voted for the constitution and endorsed the steering committee until an annual general meeting in October.
Chairperson Stephanie Bird said, “we’ve suddenly taken on a big task and we’re learning very quickly. But we’re determined to bring the building back to life because it’s an important feature in Freshbrook and Grange Park.”
Treasurer Nicki Howard told the meeting, “we really are starting from scratch. We don’t have any money, but hope to attract grants now that the constitution has been agreed.
“We estimate that annual running costs will be about £12,000 and income from groups which have made commitments will be £9,500. So we have to work hard to make the centre attractive to new organisations and private events.”
Council community buildings officer Chris Hunt said that essential repair works will be carried out during the spring and the committee could look for grants for building improvements.
But volunteers will be needed to clean and decorate the centre when the keys are handed over to the steering committee said vice-chair Tracy Brown. “You may not be able to come to meetings, but we need people with DIY and decorating skills to offer their time. We’re planning some clear up weekends when we can move back. The nicer the centre is, the more likely we can make a success of it.”
Offers of help can be made in the skills survey at: www.freshbrookcommunitycentre.org.uk
Raleigh Dog Training Club organiser Molly Edwards said her group is keen to return to the centre as soon as possible. “We found a temporary home at Lydiard Millicent, but the Freshbrook hall is larger and it’s easy to get to. We want to come back soon.”
Pictured above: some of the residents who attended the public meeting in Freshbrook Church, including steering committee chairwoman Stephanie Bird, centre.