Sussex

Fishersgate Community Centre repossessed amid concerns

Fishersgate centre Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption The council has taken back the centre with immediate effect

A council has taken back control of a community centre amid "serious safeguarding concerns" including claims of unsupervised underage drinking.

Adur District Council has taken temporary possession of the Fishersgate centre, near Portslade in Sussex.

Council leader Neil Parkin said negotiations had not resolved issues.

Steve Jupp, Fishersgate Community Association (FCA) trustee, said nothing illegal had taken place and trustees had tried to work with the council.

"We have been really trying hard with the council but every step forward we make they push us back," he said.

The council said FCA needed to have a safeguarding policy and put in place criminal records checks for trustees.

It said there were issues about the use of and access to the centre for all the community, and there had been an unacceptable instance of underage drinking.

Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption Adur council said the move followed months of negotiations

Mr Parkin said the council would now spend £30,000 on the centre to remove temporary fencing, make it safe, install new fire doors and open a play area, after which it would be in a position to return the centre to the FCA.

Mr Jupp said activities at the centre included a boxing club, boot sales, quiz nights, private parties.

He said the trustees had undergone criminal record checks and the council had carried out safety and fire alarm checks on the site.

But he said the FCA had been unable to agree a lease with the council because of court orders.

He said there had been underage drinking at a private 18th birthday party and claims in another incident police were called after two gangs descended on the hall - neither of which trustees were able to stop.

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