FEARS have been raised an important community hub in Henley could be lost.
Townspeople have been campaigning against a potential loss of funding to the The Hub at Henley from the town’s joint parish council (JPC).
The Stratford Road community centre offers groups and activities for both young people and senior citizens – including a parent and baby group, after school coffee bars, youth club activities as well as a foodbank pick up point and an online learning centre.
The JPC has provided the hub with £25,000 for the past three years – around a third of the hub’s annual costs – but has told hub trustees in future they need to apply for grant help like any other charity or organisation.
Hub chairman Peter Crathorne proposed a draft contract for a new arrangement of £28,000 but in response, the JPC advised him to submit a regular grant application.
A council report said: “The JPC can see no rationale for supporting this route of funding and do not believe that we would have the support of the residents.
“The hub needs to resubmit a new grant application which fits our criteria and must demonstrate a general need and value for money to the town along with clear plans as to how they can make this a viable business and not be reliant on JPC funding year after year.”
JPC clerk Ray Evans added the amount was a large proportion of Henley’s precept but a grant application – which has now been submitted – would be dealt with through the procedure ‘applicable to all applicants’.
But Mr Crathorne fears the JPC intend to close the building and arrange for its activities to operate from other venues in the town.
He said: “The council have failed to realise that the hub is a recognised and registered charity with a constitution that would not permit this.
“The council’s welcome, the encouragement to submit further papers, the lack of challenge presented to the assertions made by the public do not convince me that they intend to change their view that the hub funding should be reduced. This is an attempt to force the trust to adopt a plan borne out of a lack of understanding about what the hub delivers to the community.”
The trustees are reviewing the situation and another meeting is being planned to allow parishioners to discuss issues and ideas.
A date has yet to be confirmed but the meeting is expected in early April.