MEP slams Calderdale Council’s waste of EU funds

Liberal Democrat MEP for the Yorkshire & Humber region Edward McMillan-Scott has slammed Calderdale Council for proposing to sell off a community centre only recently opened with a mix of EU, charity and Council funding.

Labour run Calderdale Council has given just 21 days notice over the Christmas period of its plans to sell a community centre in the Pellon area of Halifax. The Pellon Network Centre was opened in 2008 with a chunk of funding from the European Regional Development Fund. This fund was meant to help an economically deprived area of Halifax.

Commenting on the proposal McMillan-Scott MEP said:

“I am very disappointed that a local community centre – set up with the help of EU funds – is going to be sold-off by local Labour councillors just a few years after it has opened. With such investment from the EU and elsewhere, this is a centre worth fighting to keep open.”

Liberal Democrat Ward Councillor Ashley Evans is pointing out that the terms of the EU funding stipulate the economic lifetime of assets should be 15 years, this would be from 2008. If the Council wants to change the use or dispose of the assets within 15 years they need to get the permission of the Secretary of State, otherwise they could have to repay the grant back to the EU.

Councillor Evans said:

“Attempting to sell this community centre over the Christmas period is a disgrace. The EU gave this money to help a struggling area of Halifax, and now the Labour Council want to sell it off just a few years after it has opened. I don’t know if they have the economic competence to have realised this could result in them having to repay the grant.”

Councillors Ashley Evans, James Baker campaigning to save the centre with Paul Tait and Jennifer Pearson

Councillors Ashley Evans, James Baker campaigning to save the centre with Paul Tait and Jennifer Pearson

 

Sign the petition to keep the centre open.

Notes: Appendix 4 “Economic Lifetime of Assets” of the National European Regional Development Fund Handbook on page 64 under item c states the economic lifetime of assets should be 15 years. This would be from 2008. If the Council wants to change the use or dispose of the assets within 15 years they have to get the permission of the Secretary of State (this would be DCLG so Eric Pickles). If they don’t get permission then they could have to repay the grant back to the EU.

A link to the document is provided here

 

 

Save our Centre

Liberal Democrat councillors for the Warley ward had reacted angrily to the receipt of the formal notification that Calderdale Council intends to sell the Pellon Network Centre and are launching a campaign to save it.

Cllr Ashley Evans told us: “We’ve suspected for a little while that this news would come, but it is still a huge disappointment for the people of the Pellon area. Those people who have worked so hard to make the centre a success, and those who value the services provided there, must feel particularly let down by the council.”

“We won’t just lie down and let it happen, though, and we intend to put up a vigorous defence of this local asset”.

Cllr James Baker said: “Closing this centre would be a scandalous abandonment of one of the most economically deprived areas in the borough by the Labour council. Every year the Action for Pellon Community Group hold a Christmas party for children on the Pellon Estate, and we are determined to make sure this year’s isn’t the last one.”

Commenting on the planned closure Paul Tait the Chair of the Action for Pellon Community Group said: “I can’t stand by and see this building being closed to the public, and more importantly to the people of Pellon. We need a safe place for our children to go, and more importantly be able to expand on it by providing more activities in the centre, including a new revamped work club in the new year, homework clubs for the kids and coffee mornings for the community especially during the winter months.”

As part of the campaign to save the centre, Liberal Democrat councillors will be

collecting signatures for a petition, which can also be signed online at:

www.savethepellonnetworkcentre.com

Cllr James Baker concluded: “Liberal Democrats stand for freedom from poverty, but that’s what Labour will inflict upon people in Pellon unless we act now.

Councillor Ashley Evans campaigning to save the centre.

Councillor Ashley Evans campaigning to save the centre.

 

Ends

Notes: Former Liberal Democrat Councillor for the Warley ward, Jennifer Pearson, campaigned to get the centre reopened after it had fallen into disrepair. Action Halifax allocated £112k of European funding and some from the Single Regeneration Budget to do the work. The Council added another £70k as match funding. Other funding was provided by Pennine Housing, the Community Foundation (£10k via the Stephen Pearson Memorial Fund) and others. It was opened by Cllr Conrad Winterburn during his Mayoral year.