A COMMUNITY hall is being placed back under council control after talks among the management committee which currently runs it broke down.
As previously reported in the Paisley Daily Express, the committee which runs the Old Farmhouse building in Erskine has been rocked by a row over its future use.
Bosses at the privately-owned Carli’s Kindergarten want to expand their nursery into the Old Farmhouse and insist they would accommodate community groups in the evening.
However, Brownies and Guides who use the building at night claim they’ve been told by the nursery there would be no community use in the evening.
That led to them starting a campaign and gathering more than 1,500 signatures for a petition, which has now been submitted to Renfrewshire Council.
The committee which runs the building includes two members from Carli’s Kindergarten and talks have broken down over the bitter row.
Now council bosses have stepped in to serve a 28-day notice of termination of the community contract with the committee in a bid to resolve the problem.
Hugh Cameron, vice-chair of the Old Farmhouse Committee and secretary of Erskine Community Council, said: “We would have preferred the chance to try to sort this out ourselves without being given 28 days notice.
“It’s a community centre and we are quite happy to see anyone come in during the day so that the building is used at all times.
“We would have been letting the nursery come in to use the building during they day – they wouldn’t have been taking it over.
“We are now going to regroup and put together a plan to make sure the hall is retained for the community.”
Erskine councillor Sam Mullin said: “This is all about children. The nursery looks after children and the community groups in the evening look after children, with volunteers giving up their time for free.
“We hope that the community will have first preference when it comes to the new management structure for looking after the hall.”
Councillor Jim Harte said that, together with Councillor Mullin, he will keep a close eye on the situation to make sure community groups still have access to the hall during the 28-day termination period and beyond.
He added: “We will be closely monitoring the timetable for setting up the new management committee.”
Expressions of interest in running the building as a community or voluntarily managed hall will be invited from January 9, with a closing date of February 20 in place.
If no agreement can be reached, the building will be put up for lease or sale.
A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “After working very hard to mediate between the individual members of the Old Farmhouse Management Committee, the council has reluctantly decided that relationships within the committee have deteriorated to the point where it has ceased to function.
“In these circumstances, the council has had little option but to end its community contract with the Old Farmhouse Management Committee.
“The council is fully committed to the centre remaining a self-managed facility, run for the benefit of the people of Erskine.
“We will now ask any interested parties to come forward with proposals for the building to pass into community management or ownership.
“If this can’t be achieved, the building will be declared surplus to requirements and offered for commercial lease or sale. However, this is very much a last resort.”