A Dorset community centre in Ferndown that has been running for 30 years sent shock waves through the local community last Friday when it closed its doors at 12.30pm and ceased trading.
The Ferndown Community Association, the charity that ran the centre, issued a statement saying that it was with “deep regret and sadness” that the doors had been closed, adding, “A continual reduction in grant funding and donations, together with increasing overheads, has resulted in the charity’s insolvency. In order to minimise the personal financial liabilities of the volunteers, who currently stand as trustees, the centre is now closed to the public.”
The charity is now working with its superior landlord, East Dorset District Council, in order to ensure that the centre reopens to the public as soon as possible.
Cllr Flower, leader of East Dorset District Council, said, “The Ferndown Community Association Charity informed the council that it was experiencing financial difficulty on 15 December 2016. Since then we have become aware that the charity has been using its reserves for the last few years to balance its finances. Previous grants to the association from the council have totalled £36k over the past three years. Senior members have been speaking with the charity to better understand what action they are planning to take to ensure that this much valued community facility remains accessible to the town council, police and public. The council will continue to engage with the trustees as they decide the best way forward.”
The doors remain closed and Ferndown Town Council, whose office is based there, has issued a temporary telephone number where people can contact them regarding council affairs. They say they are unable to answer any questions regarding the Barrington Centre. Their number is 07934 960897.
The latest major event to become a casualty of the closure is the town council’s consultation meeting tonight (23 January) regarding the redevelopment at King George V Pavilion and Recreation Ground. The consultation had been moved to the Barrington due to popular demand. It has now been transferred back to the original venue: King George V Pavilion at 6pm. The first 30 minutes will give the public time to look at the plans.
Here are some mags4dorset memories of the Barrington, which was a busy community theatre with a bar. Officially opened by Princess Margaret in July 1986, it provided a whole range of music, shows and community events. The centre itself is not only used by the town council and police, but by a variety of clubs and societies as well as providing the popular coffee shop, Raffles.
As the Barrington’s popularity increased, more bands came to the venue, and in 2015 soundproofing had to be carried out following a noise pollution complaint. To help fund the work, which was an unexpected expense, manager Andy Bryant called on the community to back the Barrington. Despite this support, shows are now being cancelled and the venue has fallen silent.
This post was updated on 23 January 2017 as follows:
Following a meeting of the Ferndown Community Association (FCA) and officers of East Dorset District Council today, a further statement has been released by FCA: “We are currently working to obtain a suitable arrangement for the Barrington Centre to reopen for all our customers as soon as possible. At present we cannot give any indication of how long the centre will remain closed. The Community Association is aware of the liability to its creditors and this includes all tickets, room bookings, and coach trip bookings. If necessary our assets will be liquidated to meet these liabilities and refunds will be given.
“We will inform people when we are in the position to make these refunds. Those people who purchased tickets on line will be refunded later this week.
“We would like to thank the many thousands of people who are still continuing to support us in the hope that any external funding may come at any point to enable us to continue, or a resolution is reached with our landlord EDDC to enable the Barrington to reopen as a community centre.”