Annual funding for Kenilworth centre to be cut by town council

The Kenilworth Centre
The Kenilworth Centre

The Kenilworth Centre will no longer receive £30,000 a year in funding from Kenilworth Town Council (KTC) after a vote during a meeting on Thursday December 10.

Only one councillor, Cllr Kate Dickson (Lib Dem, Abbey), voted to continue the funding, despite a petition asking the council to keep funding the centre attracting 881 signatures.

It has lost the balance between being a youth centre and being a community centre and here lies the crux of the problem.

Cllr John Cooke (Con, St John’s)

Instead, the other councillors backed an alternative proposal put forward by Cllr John Cooke (Con, St John’s), to consider an application from the centre for 2016/17 to receive £7,500 purely for its youth outreach work.

Cllr Cooke feared the centre had lost its identity and thought the centre was moving too far away from youth work.

He said: “The council will have put £120,000 into the centre by May 2016, and the council never committed to fund the centre on a permanent basis.

“The council has to be careful with ratepayers’ money, and members do not feel enough actual youth work is taking place in the centre. It has lost the balance between being a youth centre and being a community centre and here lies the crux of the problem.”

Many councillors voiced their agreement with Cllr Cooke’s thoughts, apart from Cllr Dickson, who expressed her shame at her fellow members’ stance on the centre.

She said: “I feel ashamed of this council. People in the town can’t believe the council might withdraw funding.

“It wasn’t just supposed to be a youth centre - it was a community centre as well. We don’t attract as much funding for needy people in Kenilworth but we have plenty of problems.

“We treat the centre as a business and I find it difficult to quantify our youth service as an income-generation resource.”

Referring to the amount-per-head residents would have to pay in council tax, she added: “After talking to people in the town, they were all pleased to give an extra £3 in the precept. It will be difficult to turn round to those people and say ‘we don’t think it’s running a profit.’”

Despite her concerns, her proposal to continue funding the centre each year was not supported by any other councillors, and the £30,000 yearly funding to the centre will not be renewed after May 2016.

See next week’s edition of KWN for more on this story.