Sunday, November 22, 2009

Should SNTC be subsidising a private School and a Church?

Part of the scandal behind the cost of the £1.2 million cost is the agreement with The River Church over the use of the brand new Eatons Community Centre. Another part is the privately run pre-school. There are many reasons as to why the centre was built and to this enormous size. I just wish I knew what they were! Link to the plans filed at the planning department.

Part of the deal concerns the exclusive use by a privately run business called a pre-school. This means the public has built and paid for part of the building the public cannot use. This is wrong. The trouble is the taxpayer is going to get yet another bad deal from the Town Council. At the Town Council meeting 09/09/09 it was found the bids from the privately run pre-schools were expecting to have this specially built facility for free.

The other part is an agreement with The River Church over the use of the centre. Why is the Town Council allowing a church to have any control over a public building?

Part of this agreement means the River Church is to provide a number of theatre style chairs for fitting out of the building. Notice the number of chairs is not discussed.

Looking on the River Church website I see they are still trying to raise funds to provide chairs for the ECC less than a month before the "grand opening". This doesn't bode well for the future.

The crux of the Memorandum of Understanding is the exclusive use by hire of the ECC on Wednesday evening and Sunday mornings by the River Church for 3 years from 01/08/08. In exchange the River Church will provide an unspecified number of theatre style seats and a projector for the upstairs Meeting Rooms.

I believe public buildings should be able to be hired by any group in St Neots and shouldn't be exclusively allocated to one group. I can understand that by giving exclusivity in return for chairs and projector this looks good on the Councils budget, but I feel if these items are deemed as necessary they should be provided by the taxpayer.

There is a Committee overseeing this project. It is the Eatons Community Centre Committee. So which Councillors are on this committee. Yes you guessed it. Cllrs Giles and Thorpe are still running the show. This time with Conservative Councillors Harty and Ursell.

I have asked the Town Council for a copy of the agreement between the Town Council and the River Church and received it promptly.

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