Ailing centres could be closed

Saints Community Centre, Solway Road North.
Saints Community Centre, Solway Road North.

Community centres in Luton could be closed and sold off as the council struggles to meet the huge repair bills.

Saints Community Centre has a high level of asbestos in the roof which is a significant risk to staff and visitors, as well as needing a new boiler and heating system, which together will cost £400,000.

The site in Solway Road North is worth an estimated £215,000 but combined with the adjacent ‘mothballed’ Milan Day Centre could sell for £450,000.

A Luton Borough Council spokesman said: “The council is proposing to end the lease at Saints Community Centre due to an unaffordable backlog of repairs.”

Park Town Community Centre in Bailey Street could be sold off too as it has ‘low usage’ and is small.

A large part of the building is taken up by The Children’s Centre Service and since there is a demand for more nursery education places, the council is considering transfering the day-to-day running of the entire building to The Children’s Centre.

A council spokesman said: “Given that Park Town is underused, we are looking into the possibility of it becoming a dedicated Children’s Centre which there appears to be a demand for. As well as assessing the impact of this, the consultation would look into other potential uses for the sites and alternative options available to current users.

A public consultation will take place which will examine options for potential future uses of the buildings, which are currently run by Luton Culture.

The spokesman said: “No decision would be made until after the consultation, therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

There are 11 community centres in the town which are all managed by Luton Culture but the council as a landlord remains responsible for day-to-day repair and works.

Community centres which were found to be well-used, in a good state of repair and with low costs were Farley, Chaul End, Bury Park, Hockwell and Limbury.