The news that our bid for Big Lottery funding to refurbish and redesign the centre had been unsuccessful initially left us stunned and lost for a way forward. Since then huge amounts of energy have been directed towards seeing if funding previously promised by Powys County Council and the Welsh Assembly could still be used for a much slimmed down renovation, still with the aim of creating a community hub capable of housing the library and other services.
A major source of problems has been the deadline for the spending being the end of the financial year. How do you scrap one carefully priced up plan and go back to the drawing board to produce an alternative plan, then price it all up building, technical requirements and all, present it to those holding the purse strings and get the building underway with the remotest chance of completion on time?
So, the fight to stay open and give Knighton's Community Centre a future goes on... As of today, as per our planned timescale, no more major events are booked into the centre, though our regular weekly activities continue until further notice. It's all rather nerve-wracking: we may have the funding approved and we may be able to sort out the huge complications of costing and getting this mammoth project off the ground, all in a couple of weeks. If we do, the building will have to close with little notice! We do have a plan to keep activities going during what could be months of closure - but more of that if and when.
With so much at stake we're determined to fight on a little longer.
Having said all that it is therefore almost straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back time when we find that someone has been up on the centre's roof in recent days and the exhaust flue from the building's central heating boiler has somehow become seriously bent out of shape. Given the Comm's history of suffering vandalism, youths climbing on the roof, breaking tiles etc, this latest damage seems more likely to be vandalism than a case of the flue buckling under the weight of a particularly heavy pigeon.
Most depressing for us and inconvenient for all our users is the fact that we have been advised that the central heating should not be used until the system's exhaust vent has been thoroughly checked - an expense we can ill afford at this time. An extra woolly might be in order if you're attending tomorrow's meeting on the future of the leisure centre. And any information on who might have been on the roof and caused this damage would be much appreciated.
10th October 2016
It is with great regret that Knighton and District Community Centre Committee, a registered charity, has to announce that it has been unsuccessful in the final stage application to the Big Lottery Fund to finance the transformation of Knighton and District Community Centre into a community hub to better meet the needs of the local community and to provide the town with an excitingly redesigned venue.
The fact that the Big Lottery had already supported the Committee with a grant last year to allow it to work with architects to design the scheme and get planning permission makes the latest decision even more disappointing.
The project, which the committee has been working towards since 2010, had already secured conditional funding of £500,000 from the Welsh Assembly towards the full costs, as well as £100,000 from Powys County Council to replace the building’s roof. Although these are substantial sums of money, they are nowhere near what is needed to achieve the vision of one venue where most of the services the community needs can be centrally located, so that provision of services is coordinated - and not lost to the community altogether, which is the fear of many at this time of austerity and spending cuts.
The building has had little investment since it was built in 1982 and is in need of a complete overhaul to improve energy efficiency, ensure it meets compliance and is viable long into the future.
The bid also included funding for much needed staffing because the centre is currently run almost entirely by hard-pressed volunteers and costs almost £2,500 per month just to keep the doors open.
The Chair of the Committee, Karen Plant, stated ‘This news is devastating. Our main concern now is, in the short term, to ensure we explore all options on behalf of the community and the many users of the Centre who rely on us week after week to keep the doors open, while ensuring that any public money spent is used to best effect.’
This is an unfortunate, heartbreaking outcome after many years of hard work. However the Committee has pledged to work with its existing funding partners and the professional build team to see whether a contingency plan is salvageable.
Karen Plant went on to say ‘The people of Knighton and surrounding district cannot be under any illusion about the future of the Centre and the crisis we find ourselves in. For some of us this is a seven-day-a-week voluntary commitment to keeping the place open, a situation which is unsustainable. The Big Lottery decision is an added blow for Knighton following recent announcements about other public services – some of which we were planning to co-locate in the renovated building.’