Lib Dem councillors ‘call in’ potential closure of Luton community centres

Park Town Community Centre is one of the bases under threat

Park Town Community Centre is one of the bases under threat

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Two Lib Dem councillors have called in the decision to open up a consultation into the potential closure of five community centres in Luton.

Earlier this month the Luton News revealed that council-run London Luton Airport Ltd is planning to cut its donations to Luton Culture by £1m and to Active Luton by £500,000 – putting the future of a number of community facilities in jeopardy.

In line for the chop is Dell Farm, as well as community centres in Bushmead, Limbury, Raynham Way, Park Town and at Futures House in Marsh Farm.

Luton Culture has already given the council notice that it intends to terminate the leases on the community centres, to hand back control to LBC on July 31.

In a report on the situation the council’s head of community living, Mike McMahon, says that LBC “does not have the money to continue to run these buildings once control of them is returned” and that officers will need to look at “alternative running models”.

A consultation on the potential closures has now been called in by Lib Dem councillors Michael Dolling and Alan Skepelhorn, meaning that the consultation has been temporarily halted until a meeting of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Board on March 30.

During the meeting the decision to open a consultation will go under the microscope.

Cllrs Dolling and Skepelhorn took the decision to call the plan in to give the scrutiny board “an opportunity to examine the democratic process behind the decision, the consultation plans and the effects of the proposed closures on the local communities affected.”

The fate of a sixth community centre in Farley is also in doubt, as Luton Culture has asked LBC to search for an alternative operator over the next two years.