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Community centres fear for future

Escalating running costs have cast a long shadow over the future of many community centres – threatening the focal point for parishes around the county.

Some centres have already been hit with bills totalling several thousands for electricity, oil and insurance – and they don’t have the financial resources to pay for this.

Cllr Andrew Reddington claimed he was aware of several communities in North Galway who cannot afford the operating costs of running their local halls.

The Headford councillor said that he had been approached by those operating two community centres in his area who informed him that they can no longer guarantee that the facilities will remain available to local groups.

Many operators have seen their insurance premiums have doubled over the past four years – and that’s in addition to increased electricity and fuel costs over the past twelve months which have left some cutting the availability of their local halls.

There is some financial assistance available from the state in terms of small grants being provided to community groups, development associations and volunteer-led organisations.

But according to Cllr Reddington, the supports are not sufficient to prevent some of them ceasing to operate.

“Community centres are under serious pressure with running costs and some of them are finding it difficult to survive.

“I am currently dealing with two community centres who have ESB bills hitting €3,000 alone and it’s extremely difficult for them to operate. They are facing the threat of closure,” said Cllr Reddington.

He referred to Minister Heather Humphries’ announcement earlier this year of the Community Activities Fund to support local groups with their running costs such as utility or insurance bills.

While he said that this was welcome, it was unfortunate that it was capped at €2,500. He now wants this cap to be lifted or for the Minister to make available a second tranche of funding.

“Any community group that applied for that may hear some good news shortly but it won’t fix the overall issue.

“If ESB and insurance costs don’t fall, community halls are under pressure and could close. This should not be allowed happen, but it is out of their control.

“They need state support in order to survive in the current climate. The costs of operating these halls have become exorbitant and many are not in a position to pay the bills,” added Cllr Reddington.


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