Community takes over the running of Hambleton Forum in town

VOLUNTEERS are taking over the running of one of the biggest community centres in North Yorkshire after council chiefs decided to hand the facility over to local people.

Operation of the Hambleton Forum in Northallerton is set to transfer today from Hambleton District Council to the newly formed company The Forum (Northallerton) Ltd following a decision by the cabinet of the council.

The move is expected to save the local authority £40,000 a year, but it has stumped up a grant of £70,000 to support the running costs of the centre plus £22,000 to invest in new cinema equipment and promised the building will be in good working order before the handover.

The company which will run the forum has a board made up of local people, mostly from groups who regularly use the Forum.

“I’m on record before saying how extremely impressed with the enthusiasm, effort and quality of the work that has been put into this process by local people,” said cabinet member for leisure and health Coun Peter Wilkinson.

“That the group has organised itself and formed a new company ready to take on the service from August 1 is equally impressive. It underlines their passion and willingness to ensure the facility is preserved for the local community and it of course allows the council to make long-term savings. Based on their work so far, The Forum (Northallerton) Ltd has every chance of succeeding and will follow earlier examples such as Bedale Hall and the Galtres Centre. I wish the new venture every success.”

The community centre, the biggest in Hambleton, was opened by the council in 1975 and is used by 16 groups including theatre societies, fitness classes and local clubs.

David Allan, board chairman of The Forum (Northallerton) Ltd, said: “Since June 12, there has been a lot of work to do to get ready for the takeover date. The company is formed, the lease is drawn up and insurances are ready to be put in place.

“Now we have the final approval required we can press ahead and really make this happen. It’s a very exciting time! Our thanks go to the council for their faith and support.

“We have a programme of refurbishments planned during August which will improve the environment of the Forum immeasurably. There will be disruption during this time but we are doing our best to make sure customers are inconvenienced as little as possible.”

The company is now recruiting for a general manager before contacting its customers to discuss their needs and expectations for the facility.

l If you would like to help The Forum (Northallerton) Ltd and want to volunteer to help, contact Mark Haynes on 01609 767056 or email mark.haynes@hambleton.gov.uk