Bath youth schemes hit by shock 400% rent rise
A Bath youth club and disabled children’s charity are being forced to look for new homes after the council put up their rent by 400 per cent.
The Enrich Youth Project and the Bath Junior Gateway Club both use the Weston Children’s Centre, in Penn Hill Road, as a base for weekly meetings.
But Bath and North East Somerset Council has told them that from April their rent for one session a week will be rising from £400 a year to £2,000 – a fivefold increase.
Community youth worker Clive Bennett said his organisation, which is run by All Saints Church, in Weston, had taken over a service previously run by B&NES in 2010.
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He said: “As the local church, who were doing some work with local young people at the time, we stepped in to deliver youth work in the area – a service the local authority really should be delivering.”
Mr Bennett added that he did not know how the church was going to afford the new rent levels and would have to look at scaling back its operation.
The Bath Junior Gateway Club, which provides activities and support for disabled and disadvantaged children and teenagers, has been using the centre for more than 20 years.
Leader Wayne Brooks said they worked with around 75 young people and would be unlikely to continue if the rent increase was implemented.
He said: “We are already struggling as a charity at the moment, so if the rent does go up we are not going to be able to run for much longer.”
Both groups have the backing of Councillor Colin Barrett (Con, Weston), who said the work they were doing was a classic example of the Big Society and it was “crazy” for the rent to be put up by such a huge amount.
A B&NES spokesman said the local authority had been subsidising the centre in the past but could not afford to do so any more.
He said: “At present, the council heavily subsidises the hire of children’s centre rooms to outside organisations and community groups. This subsidy is in the region of 80 per cent per session. We have not adjusted the charge for room hire in over five years.
“At a time when one of the council’s key priorities is to the protect frontline services that are highly valued by local people, such as keeping open our eight children’s centres, we must look carefully at ways to help balance the books.”
He added B&NES was now offering a temporary concession until October 1, when the full rent increase would come into effect.