Shoreham activities centre at risk of closure

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S04618H14''Adur Outdoor Activity Centre. ENGSUS00120140125112645

FEARS are mounting that a popular activities centre could be forced to close after its trust withdrew funding.

The Adur Outdoor Activities Centre in Brighton Road, Shoreham, could close for the last time as early as the end of this month.

John Haffenden, chairman of the trustees, told the Herald: “The trust that runs the centre is no longer able to continue because we have run out of funds to do it sustainably in the future.

“None of the trust members wanted it to happen.

“I cannot tell you it will physically close because West Sussex County Council (WSCC) own the building.”

Many residents have shared their dismay over the news on Facebook.

Nicola Port of Shoreham said her family regularly used the facilities, adding: “Our daughter has been climbing there for a few years and my husband climbs when the opportunity presents. It is such a fantastic resource, we are very sad that we may loose it.”

Jen Harvey, of Shoreham Beach, said: “The centre has provided water and adventure activities to thousands of young people, including a fantastic climbing wall.

“It is a fundamental part of our town and a real asset to local people.”

Unless WSCC can find another trust or organisation to step in, the centre will close on October 31.

Mr Haffenden said: “It’s been there for an awful long time. Many use the indoor climbing walls, but due to other places opening, like Boulder Brighton in Portslade and the climbing wall at Withdean Sports Complex, a lot of our trade has gone to these locations.”

Staff have been informed of the sad news and Mr Haffenden said he is working closely with the county council to make sure they are all paid what they are owed.

Mr Haffenden said: “We had a meeting with staff on October 1 and made them fully aware of the financial situation. It was devastating for them.”

Two years ago, WSCC removed all its funding from the centre so it could continue as an independent charity.

However, Mr Haffenden said that due to the lack of custom for many of the activities it is no longer viable for them to continue.

He said: “Our other activities, primarily canoeing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding, have not been able to continue due to the income we need for the outgoings we have.”

To try to combat this, the centre brought in an expert management group, Wave Leisure, to help the company reduce its outgoings.

However, Mr Haffenden said it was not enough to keep the facilities up and running.

He said: “There are going to be people disappointed including all the trustees who have tried their best.”

The closure of the centre is not definite and meetings between the trust, Adur District Council (ADC) and WSCC will hopefully lead to a solution.

WSCC owns the building, while Adur District Council owns the freehold for the land.

A spokesman for WSCC said: “It is unfortunate the centre has reached this position. However, next week we will be meeting with Adur District Council and other stakeholders to discuss a way forward. We hope that despite the challenges faced we can work together to see future activities secured for the community in Adur.”

A spokesman for ADC said: “The Outdoor Centre is a key part of the local leisure offering, and we are keen to hear from the centre and the county council on what assistance may be required to ensure that it remains open for the local community.”

Chairman for four years, Mr Haffenden said he will be sad to step down.

He said: “I will miss it. Hopefully WSCC will find a suitable partner and rise again.”

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