The Ashcroft and Ramridge Tenants and Residents Association is asking for the public to back their petition and Save ARC Community Services, after Luton Borough Council increased their rents for the buildings they use.
The group, which is a non profitable organisation, has been running for over 20 years, it has two nurseries and provides services for the local community including social care support, over 70’s lunch group, daily drop ins and they offer advice on a number of issues.
Ann McMaster, of Ashcroft and Ramridge Community Nursery, said: “We run a local non profitable organisation that helps vulnerable people and families in Luton. We are a community group run by volunteers, we do not make any money and we can not afford the rent, we will have to close, there is no option to move elsewhere.
“I do not understand why the council are doing this to us when we have supported the people in Luton on a daily basis for over 20 years.
“They are putting up the rents to they are in line with other businesses, but they all make money, we do not, so how is that fair? If we close the buildings will be derelict, they have nothing to go there, why push out a community group that helps people.
“We have always had a good relationship with the council and I understand that rents do have to go up but I think it should be a gradual increase, not an increase of £36,000 across our four buildings.”
The organisation runs from buildings in Ramridge School, Ashcroft High School, and on Yeovil Road,
A spokesman for the council said: “Owing to challenging Government public sector spending reductions, the Council ended its rent alleviation policy in 2012 in favour of a fair market rent scheme aimed at ensuring fairness and consistency across Luton to support essential local services.
“Implementation has been gradual, according to the timing of rent reviews and lease renewals.
“We are mindful of the needs of organisations that provide a high level of value to the community, and have been working very closely with Ashcroft & Ramridge Tenants and Residents Ltd to mitigate the impact of its new charges from 1 April 2017 as far as is reasonable.
“The Council is additionally providing £75,000 to TARA over the next three years to support its sustainability and work to attract additional sources of funding.”
Ann told the Luton News: “We have staff and children and families that need our services and this in the long run will reduce the cost to the local council. We would be paying £219,000 in rent over three years and the council are giving us £75,000 over three years sustainability money so as I said in one hand then take it back in another.”
The group is organising a community meeting at Ramridge Baptist Church in Luton at 6.15pm on Tuesday, April 18, and are encouraging everyone to go along and have their say.