As part of their Together for Nottingham plan, the city council is looking to reduce the debt it has accumulated and save £28m in 2022.

One of the proposals to save money is to start charging the 38 community centres in the city “fair market rates” instead of the current subsidised arrangement.

The council has to satisfy government spending measures or face further action in the form of a commissioner who would make financial decisions on behalf of the council.

Michelle Campbell, a social worker based at Sneinton Community Centre, said: “This [centre] is a lifeline for some people, some people don’t see anybody, they’ve got no family, some people come here and they haven’t eaten in days and come in to get a hot meal or even a cup of tea.

“Without the centre they wouldn’t see anybody or get a warm cooked meal.”

“It could even mean the closure of the centre”
Michelle Campbell

She continued: “It could actually mean the closure of some services and at best would affect some services. It could even mean the closure of the centre – they need to start working more closely in partnership with people in the community.”

Joanne Grantham

Joanne Grantham, another worker from the centre, said: “New parents come with their new-born babies for parent and toddler (sessions) or just to get simple advice. People need these centres; people reach out to us.

“It brings the community together and gathers knowledge and understanding of what needs to be done in the area.”

Neghat Khan, Labour councillor for the Dales ward and portfolio holder for neighbourhoods, safety and inclusion who was involved in the cabinet that made the decision, said: “If for example a fair rent means that we should be charging £10,000 and we charge £10 a year, how do we start bridging that gap between the amount it costs to run a centre and the amount we are currently asking for it?”

She also said: “You might say I rent some space out in a community centre but I’m only charging £5, but to rent that space to the community centre it costs £15, you can’t charge £5 if it costs £15.”

Councillor Neghat Khan talking about community centre rents increasing

An example the council gave to illustrate the need for change was the Highbank Community Centre which costs £12,783 a year to run, but only pays £30 a year, meaning they have paid only £320 in 32 years.

Other decisions the council has proposed to save money include:

Closing five children’s centres

Ending the grant funding of youth services provided by Base 51

Introducing a proposed charge for bulky waste

Reducing link bus services resulting in fewer operational buses

A reduction in community grants

Closing the public toilets on Victoria Embankment