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.”
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.