‘Please just fund it and let us run The Hut’

Local campaigners Trev Wainwright, Alex Kear, Mia and Sophia Free and Tina Dransfield  at The Hut in Airedale. Picture Scott Merrylees
Local campaigners Trev Wainwright, Alex Kear, Mia and Sophia Free and Tina Dransfield at The Hut in Airedale. Picture Scott Merrylees

Community facilities at The Hut will cost more once the council takes it over, a campaigner has claimed.

More than 650 people have signed a petition calling on Wakefield Council to provide funding to the centre, rather than take it over directly.

Alex Kear, who started the petition, believes the council could save money by providing financial support to Chrysalis Youth and Community Project, the charity which currently runs The Hut in Airedale, rather than taking over the centre.

Chrysalis say they have faced an annual deficit of around £25,000 since council services were withdrawn, and claim that repeated requests for financial support were ignored.

Mr Kear said: “In essence, when the council took services out of The Hut it created a shortfall in Chrysalis’ income.

“The council are taking over and now they’re going to be chucking money at it.

“We as taxpayers are now going to pay more to use the facilities that Chrysalis was providing already.”

The Hut, a £5 million government-funded community centre, first opened in 2012, a joint venture between Wakefield Council and Chrysalis.

But, according to a statement released by Chrysalis last month, Wakefield Council had withdrawn most of their services by the end of the first year.

The charity last month announced plans to end their involvement with the hall, saying it was no longer a financially viable option.

Wakefield Council will take over The Hut on Friday, March 1.

Beate Wagner, corporate director of children and young people at Wakefield Council said: “We have received a petition which we are carefully considering and we will be providing a response.

“We are committed to the future of The Hub and ensuring that the centre gives young people and the local community a centre that provides them with the space to access services and activities.”