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New Community Centre has no catering facilities?

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littlerock
littlerock Posts: 1,774 Forumite
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Our group meets on Friday evenings in the local community centre which is sub-let to the community association. Members use the kitchen, which is off the main hall, to make tea and coffee. We have a small cupboard where we keep our kit and mugs etc and also clean up afterwards. A couple of years ago the council decided to redevelop the site together with a plot opposite, and it built a new school and sports centre over the road to include a new Community centre.

We moved in this week. Although it is a larger and brighter space than before, there in no longer any storage space for any group's kit, not even lockers, and no catering facilities. When we asked about this we were told there would be a cafe in the Sports centre which would open Monday to Saturday from 10.00am to 7.00pm. Our group meets from 7.30pm to 10pm on Friday evenings.

We are also being askd to pay a 25% increase in hire charges per hour because it is a new hall. When the initial consultation about the new community centre took place with user groups, we were assured a kitchen area would be available. Not least because the old hall was often hired out for receptions and birthdays and ethic religious celebrations at weekends.

(Many of the religious groups which hold events in the hall at present do their own catering for all sorts of reasons, to celebrate their native traditions, for religious reasons etc, to keep the cost down.)

Now we are told we have to use the cafe, which is not open when we meet. As the Secretary of our group, I raised this issue at a meeting with the trustees this week and said we had been promised a kitchen and that surely having no catering facilities would reduce the attraction of the centre for hire. (The community centre is sub-let to the community association.)

This was met with a shrug. The trustees said there was still a kitchen on site but it was now part of the cafe area which had been added to plans at a late stage by the council which wanted the revenue from letting out a cafe to the private sector, to offset the costs of running the sports centre. The Council considered the provision of a daytime/early evening cafe in the Sports Centre to be sufficient.

Looking up how common this no catering things is, I see there are several newish community centres in Scotland which have no catering facilities. Does any one use such a centre and how do you cope? Do you rely upon vending machines?

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  • DomRavioli
    DomRavioli Posts: 3,136 Forumite
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    Just take a flask if it means that much with hot water in it.

    Honestly, it seems like a massive fuss over nothing.
  • Alikay
    Alikay Posts: 5,147 Forumite
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    If there is a vending machine, the simple solution would be to use it. If not, then once people know the situation I guess they could bring a bottle of water/can of pop with them.
    Having used lots of kitchens in community halls I can see why this decision may have been taken to keep running costs low: It is shocking how quickly shared kitchen facilities become dirty if there is no cleaner employed, even if each group pledges to clean up after themselves.
  • Robin9
    Robin9 Posts: 12,218 Forumite
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    I am a Trustee of a Community Centre and we take a different line to the Centre where OP's group meet. If we didn't provide a well equipped kitchen then we wouldn't get much of a income. Even our smaller meeting room has a small kitchen area.

    Very few of our groups come just to meet - socialising over a tea and cake is very much part of the gathering - its part of the community.


    Off there this morning for a Coffee Morning to raise funds for Christian Aid. The kitchen will be well used.
    Never pay on an estimated bill. Always read and understand your bill
  • littlerock
    littlerock Posts: 1,774 Forumite
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    edited 7 May 2016 at 1:17PM
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    Actually it is quite a large group - 40 or 50 people and they normally break for a tea and cake half way to socialise. We have quite a large investment in china etc. A number of different groups used the kitchen in the old centre and it was always in a good condition.

    But leaving that aside, a large part of the community association's weekend bookings are from people wanting to hold parties or celebrations of some sort and, as we are in an ethnically diverse area, this includes serving ethnic food so the kitchen is intensively used. We called in on sunday to collect some stuff from the old hall a few weeks back, and it was in use for a Korean bazaar and social. Last month as we happened to go past, I saw it was being used for a west indian style revivalist meeting. These sorts of groups bring in their own food and use the kitchen to prepare and serve it. Those are just two examples.

    I can see a big drop in the income of the association if the people who want to book it cannot have access to a kitchen. Between the main hall and kitchen there is a casual seating area. This has been designated as a cafe apparently and the council has said the kitchen must be kept locked at present, unless there are "official" staff present on the premises. There may be staff around during the day, but never in the evening or at weekends, when many of the celebration etcbookings are.

    The secretary of the community association is aware of all this but the hall was built by the council who despite consulting, took no notice of his requests for various facilities eg cupboards, storage space etc. For example he requested cupboards along one wall of the hall, with shelving and also storage for tables and said he was prepared to reduce the size of the hall to accommodate this. Now he finds the hall is the smaller size but there is no storage and there are no cupboards although they are shown on the plans and architect's drawings. When he asked why not, he was told the wall shown was not a load bearing wall and so could not have shelves or cupboards added. No one appears to know why this decision was taken or who by.

    Also the old community centre was sound proofed and stood on its own plot so they got a lot of party bookings. For some reason, possibly the same as the decision not to give it a loadbearing wall for the cupboards, there is no sound proofing in the new hall and there are flats above it. So there are large notices asking everyone to keep the noise levels down.

    How can we be asked to pay more when the facilities have been reduced? I do wish people just thought things through.
  • DomRavioli
    DomRavioli Posts: 3,136 Forumite
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    OP, it isn't up to you to decide that, so you can either let it go and get on with life, or spend your days trying to figure out other people's decisions.

    Unless you are specifically responsible for deciding what goes into community centres in your area, deal with it. Just seems like you're whining for no good end.
  • Owain_Moneysaver
    Owain_Moneysaver Posts: 11,380 Forumite
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    The council aren't going to rebuild their community centre to suit you, so either put up with the drawbacks or embrace the free market and find another venue. A lot of pubs have function rooms which are under-used during the week.
    A kind word lasts a minute, a skelped erse is sair for a day.
  • littlerock
    littlerock Posts: 1,774 Forumite
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    Our group is run on a shoestring for elderly people. Maybe in central Scotland where Owain lives there are plenty of pubs with available function rooms but not down here in the south east. Our local pubs do not have under utilised function rooms, not ones that are accessible to older people at night anyway, or affordable.

    The free market is fine if you are fit and have a good reliable income. Not so much for older people on limited pensions who may have mobility issues.

    Near us the going rate for two pubs' function rooms used to be £60-£80 for a Monday night. Both these pubs have recently put their rates up to £120. OK there are no takers so far as I know, unsurprisingly, but they say they need to charge a realistic rent.

    My point was I am surprised that a new community hall, extensively used by minority groups and older people, should not offer any self catering.
  • DomRavioli
    DomRavioli Posts: 3,136 Forumite
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    littlerock wrote: »
    Our group is run on a shoestring for elderly people. Maybe in central Scotland where Owain lives there are plenty of pubs with available function rooms but not down here in the south east. Our local pubs do not have under utilised function rooms, not ones that are accessible to older people at night anyway, or affordable.

    The free market is fine if you are fit and have a good reliable income. Not so much for older people on limited pensions who may have mobility issues.

    Near us the going rate for two pubs' function rooms used to be £60-£80 for a Monday night. Both these pubs have recently put their rates up to £120. OK there are no takers so far as I know, unsurprisingly, but they say they need to charge a realistic rent.

    My point was I am surprised that a new community hall, extensively used by minority groups and older people, should not offer any self catering.

    It has been commonplace for some time in the rest of the country and even in the south east.

    Perhaps contact the council to see what other venues are available with your specific specialist needs.
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