Thurrock Council Junk Community Rooms up for grabs

Thurrock groups will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to grab a series of community halls as the council seeks to abandon buildings it no longer needs.

Communities will be granted first refusal on three children’s centres, ten scout halls, 19 party halls and seven pubs in the latest round of disposal of council-owned assets that have become surplus to requirements.

Scouts and other groups will be able to take over the freehold properties of the buildings they use and the council wants to hear ideas for one of the empty properties available.

The list includes Aveley Children’s Center in Stifford Road, Stanford Primary School Children’s Center in Copland Road and Purfleet Children’s Center in Centurion Way.

Belhus Village Hall at Daiglen Drive, South Ockendon and Brand Groves Community Hall at Brandon Groves Avenue, South Ockendon are also on the elimination list, along with several plots of land.

The council says it will save on upkeep, maintenance and administration costs and that community groups will have access to funding that was not previously available because they do not own the buildings. Buildings that cannot be transferred will be sold.

Speaking on the community transfer scheme at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Mark Coxshall, adviser responsible for strategic planning for regeneration and external relations, said: ‘It is the best way to put community buildings in good hands for generations to come. Volunteers are the best at providing good service to residents, better than any public agency can ever do.

“Time and again I have been asked by town halls and other assets if they can own the building they are in and now they can. The future of these buildings is in the hands of the community and that is where they should stay.

Speaking to the Business Oversight and Review Board on Tuesday, Labor leader John Kent had some reservations. He said: “I really applaud the sentiment behind allowing these halls to go to a community organization that is well equipped and well able to continue to run them and to organizations that have some capacity behind them.

“I’m really not sure that’s the case for party rooms. Over the past two years the local authority has had to spend £200,000 on upkeep and fabric for the village halls. I do not know if the various committees of the town hall of the community groups have the means to be able to do this.

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