Adventure centre charity raps council over sale of freehold
A charity which has invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in Stubbers Adventure Centre has insisted that it should be sold the freehold on the facility.
Owners Havering Council has put the freehold on the market, subject to the existing lease agreement.
The same services are likely to be provided at the site in Ockendon Road, Upminster, until 2017, after which it will be up to the new owner to choose whether to keep it as it is or to change its use.
But Jonathan Douglas-Hughes, chairman of Stubbers Adventure Centre, the charity that already owns the leasehold, said that his organisation had invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in the centre and believed it would eventually be able to buy the freehold.
He said: “About two years ago we approached Havering [Council] with a view to acquiring the freehold on the basis that Stubbers would be legally obliged to run it forever for the benefit of young people.”
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Mr Douglas-Hughes said they thought the council would be happy as it would not cost the ratepayer anything, but it would secure the facility.
He added: “We believed, perhaps misguidedly, that Havering was pleased with our efforts and that it wished to help us preserve this first-class facility.
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“Because of this belief we have invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in this facility to make it first class.
“The investment has been made possible by the generosity of many charities, including grants totalling over �300,000 each from the Essex Youth Trust and the Veolia Havering Riverside Trust.”
Bob Edwards, the centre’s manager, added: “As a not-for-profit organisation we have invested all our revenue into improving the number and quality of activities and facilities that we provide.”
He said he welcomed the news that the council was prepared to sell the freehold, adding: “The ideal outcome is that the council will allow us to buy the freehold, taking consideration of the great reputation we have built for the centre and for Havering.
“Once we have the freehold we can release funding to develop the site further, including the build of a new accommodation and training centre.”
The council’s deputy leader, Cllr Steven Kelly, said: “We must get best value for money for taxpayers and because Stubbers is a specialist property we have put it on the open market to establish its proper value.
“We will, of course, consider all bids received.”