Charity given ‘ultimatum’ to leave or take on community centre costing £60k to run

Roy Kennedy, trustee, Peter Foulkes Mills, trustee, Joginder Singh, trustee, Cinderella Griffiths, student, Kiran Deep, student, and Usha Bhanot, pictured outside Hyson Green Community Centre

A charity in Nottingham which provides teaching and domestic abuse support fears they may be forced out of a city council-owned community centre after being given an “ultimatum” to take it on at a cost of £60,000 a year.

Sikh charity Karam Yog (meaning giving hope to the hopeless) was established in 1978 and today runs the Nottingham Teaching College out of the Hyson Green Community Centre.

The group has also faced problems at previous premises. It was based at Radford Unity Centre from 1989.

This centre was for years home to council staff and three community groups, including Karam Yog, which used the centre free of charge.

The organisations were offered the chance to buy the property but talks between the groups broke down, and they had to vacate the premises in 2014 due to the failure of a dated heating system.

Similar issues appeared while at the charity’s next home in Basford Community Centre, which they invested considerable sums in to before being forced to vacate again due to maintenance problems.

In 2017 the group moved to the Hyson Green Community Centre, but trustee Joginder Singh says the charity is facing eviction once again.

They were first offered rent at £8,000 for a year, a 54 per cent increase on current costs, but no agreement was made.

Mr Singh told the Local Democracy Reporting Service they have now been given an “ultimatum” to run the community centre or leave.

“Our concerns are falling on deaf ears,” he says.

“We’ve said [their offers] are unreasonable and since then we’ve tried to have meetings with them.

“We are contributing over £200,000 of good work to the community, which is in line with Nottingham City Council’s objectives to tackle digital skills, illiteracy, numeracy, poverty, employment, skills for life and domestic violence.

“We’ve helped 10,000 people into employment.

“We’ve had a marching order to leave by the end of February or March.”

Kiran Deep, 22, a student of Nottingham Teaching College, has been studying in England for a year having moved from Italy.

She said: “They have helped me a lot. They’ve guided me. It would be sad to see it go.”

And Cinderella Griffiths, 66, also a student, added: “I’m struggling to learn stuff so I get one-to-one help because I’m dyslexic.

“It would be devastating if it closed.”

Responding a Nottingham City Council spokesman said: “We work closely with community groups and charities, and understand the positive impact they have across Nottingham. Some rent buildings from the council and provide valued services to local people.

“These have historically been made available on lower rents, but this can place a burden on the taxpayer in terms of the council retaining responsibility for repairs. As part of our work under the Together For Nottingham Plan, we’re moving towards occupancy agreements more aligned to market rates when they come up for renewal, and where repairs and insurance responsibility are passed to the occupier and rising energy costs are factored in.

“We started talking to Nottingham Teaching College last April as their lease was due to expire in August 2022.

“We offered a one-year lease at £8,000 but, despite this being below market value, no agreement was reached. The building currently costs the council around £60,000 per year to run.

“We have engaged fully and fairly with them at all times, trying to be as flexible as possible, and have extended their current Tenancy At Will to ensure the group can continue to run while we see if any other organisations would like to take on the building on the same terms.”

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