Row escalates over Bersted community centre

A ROW over claimed changes to developer contributions has forced parish councillors to walk away from a new community centre.

On Tuesday (October 9), members of Bersted Parish Council unanimously decided to pull out of the centre being built on the site six development.

Cllr Brain Knight, said: “We were given the impression we would receive some £94,0000 to set up the running of the building and for fixtures and fittings. Arun now say the £94,000 is only for maintenance costs.”

He said Arun’s insistence there was a lack of changing facilities would add to the financial burden.

“This at my guess means we would need another £50,000 to make the centre letable and running costs of £100,000 for the next five years,” added Cllr Knight.

Simon McDougall, a parish, district and county councillor said: “It would be a two finger salute to the residents of this parish asking them to pay for something they were told would be provided for nothing. Arun had 18 months to get this sorted and they have failed to do so. Now they are holding a gun to this council’s head.”

The centre is due to be finished next summer. Ownership of the building was to be transferred to the parish council for £1, they would then set up a trust to run it.

Parish council chairman Patrick Hastings said: “What it is important to make clear is that if we walk away the project is not finished. It is just in someone elses hands.”

An Arun spokeswoman said: “An open space provision was negotiated with the developer for the benefit of the new community and with this is a set amount of money specifically for the maintenance of the community building.

“The Section 106 agreement states the £94,445 is for maintenance, and it therefore has to be ring-fenced for this specific purpose. The operational costs of a community building, such as wages, are not costs the developer building the facility meets.”