Southampton community centre forced to close

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END OF THE ROAD: Tony Broomes (left) outside the African Caribbean Community Centre in Trinity Road

A SOUTHAMPTON community centre that plays a vital role in the life of the town’s black residents has been forced to close following concerns about rising maintenance costs.

The Trinity Road based African Caribbean Community Centre has provided a focal point for local functions and groups events for over 40 years.

But now it may be forced to shut its doors after staff failed in their bid to obtain funds for vital repair work which includes fixing a leaking roof and damp throughout the building.

A campaign was launched last year to raise £300,000 to keep the former church building open. However that target has not been met and now leading staff members say they accept that the centre may have to close.

Tony Broomes, who has played an integral part in keeping the centre running, said: “We have got to bite the bullet on it. We are doing less and less business. People are going to other places for their events. That spiral has just continued. All our clientele is going somewhere else for their functions. We are going to put it on the market. It would be nice for someone who can come up with something else for us to do with this but no one has come up with anything that’s a life-saver.”

He added: “We can’t ask people to come in here with the building in this state. It’s mouldy, the roof is leaking, it’s just not fit for purpose.”

The building will now be put on the market in the hope funds could be raised to purchase a new building.

Broomes said that despite the fact that the centre may have to close, the team running it will still be active in aiming to put on local events and are looking to find an interim venue to meet as it was important for the community to have somewhere to gather.

He said: “If we can raise enough funds from the sale of the building to buy something that would be good. But nothing’s wrapped up, we can’t say what we will be able to exchange. We have still got to cross that bridge.”

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