Loss of income from St Neots’ community centres during pandemic has ‘hit hard’

Priory Centre in St Neots

Priory Centre in St Neots PICTURE: Google Earth - Credit: Google Earth

St Neots Town Council Mayor Stephen Ferguson said: “The full financial consequences of the pandemic are only just becoming apparent.”

St Neots Town Council has set up a working party to address losses suffered during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Councillors have reported a combined loss of £170,000, which is due to the lack of income rental from the Priory Centre and the Eatons Community Centre which were forced to close due to Government Covid restrictions.

Councillors were made aware of the issue at a full town council meeting on September 23.

St Neots mayor, cllr Stephen Ferguson, told The Hunts Post after the meeting: “The full financial consequences of the pandemic are only just becoming apparent, and community centres that depend on hall rental fees for a large portion of their income have been hit especially hard.

“We were forced to close the Priory and Eatons centres during the lockdown, and continued restrictions on social gatherings mean that we cannot expect them to return to full use anytime soon.

“I look forward to hearing the report of this working group at our next meeting and to working together with staff and councillors to keep our community facilities running in a financially viable and sustainable manner for the remainder of this awful pandemic.”

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Referring to the loss of money for the Priory Centre, St Neots Town Council’s finance officer, Teodora Kostova, revealed that the loss of income was in the region of £150,000 in the current financial year, and is set to exceed £300,000 for the full year.

Speaking at the meeting, Teodora said: “The council needs to have some kind of strategy as to how we are going to mitigate the loss of income from the Priory Centre.

“It’s open now but there is no room hire, or there might be some, but not at all nearly where our regular hire was.”

St Neots Town councillors Barry Chapman, Ben Pitt, Caroline Gregson and Nicola Presland, headed by cllr Justin Cooper-Marsh have now formed a working group to urgently investigate the loses and to suggest ways to mitigate them during the ongoing pandemic.

The working party has been asked to report its findings ahead of the full town council meeting in October.