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Matthew Hancock
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Free halls for groups could cost council 24k

Monday, 12th April 2010.

Haverhill Town Council is to spend up to 24,000 in an effort to get more people to join community and voluntary groups in the town.

The council had agreed to put forward a bit for cash from the Haverhill Partnership to help provide free access to facilities for groups, but the bid failed recently.

Last week councillors decided to go ahead with the idea funded by the council itself.

Town clerk Gordon Mussett explained that one of the main barriers which stopped many people joining groups was the cost, and the cost was generally caused by the amount the group had to pay for a meeting place.

If the cost of hiring halls and meeting places could be removed or dramatically reduced, it might allow groups to increase membership and also allow other new groups to start up.

Some councillors were cautious about how to go about achieving the desired results, especially as the estimated annual cost was around 35,000.

There was concern some groups might accept free meeting places but continue to charge the same membership fees.

Cllr Margaret Marks wanted to know details of how many groups would benefit from the initiative, and also to make sure there was a clear division between commercial and voluntary groups, so the former did not benefit from it.

Members decided to fund up to 24,000 to cover the cost of making the hire of centres and meeting places free to community and voluntary groups for eight months from September 1, on the proviso the groups waived their admission fees for members.

In December an assessment would be made of how succesful the initiative had been in increasing memberships.

Haverhill Online News

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