Last Tuesday night (13th September) Belper Town Council refused a grant application from Strutt’s Community Centre of £25,000 for remedial work such as decorating, pointing and curtains.
The Grade II listed building on Derby Road, formerly the Herbert Strutt School, is now a leading facility for a wide range of community groups in the town and is a lifeline for many.
When asked about the reasoning behind the refusal of the application, Belper Town Council responded that: “The sum was too large to consider at the time – it would need to be budgeted for and therefore go through the council’s budgeting process. Also, the council considered that the application did not meet its criteria for grants.”
Furthermore they added: “The council requested that the Clerk discuss with the centre, the application and funding needs of the centre with a view to a further application being submitted in the future.”
Whilst the Mayor, Cllr Spendlove and also Cllr Charlton were sympathetic to the application, the vote against making the grant was passed without opposition. Cllr Dan Booth expressed an opinion that Strutt’s could be run as a wedding venue and that an application for money to decorate it – and therefore attract income from weddings – may have more success.
Improvements have been made behind the scenes, but the size of the project means that more funds are required to continue the work. Last year it was estimated that the building would need around £3.5 million for its restoration. Some of this is to be raised from income, but the majority of the sum is to come from external sources.
Cllr Ben Bellamy said: “Frankly, expecting already overworked volunteers to run weddings as well as manning reception, taking bookings, cleaning, planning works, fundraising and the plethora of other things that the volunteers have to do just to keep Strutt’s afloat, is naive and unfair.”
Sue MacFarlane, who was also at the meeting, said: “Unfortunately, there was no-one from Strutt’s to talk through the application before it was considered. There was a very healthy debate before the vote was taken, and it’s a shame the council felt that they couldn’t support the application.”
“The Strutt Centre is a very important part of the life of our town, and it is in need of renovation and updating if it is to continue to serve the community. I would suggest that the people making the application talk to the council about why it was rejected and, if they apply again, that they attend in person to speak to the councillors and ask for support for what they need.”
Nailed have approached the organisers of the Strutt’s Centre and are awaiting a response on the decision.