User group hoping to save Delphi Centre

Delphi club users are hoping to save the building from closure ANL-160628-154914009
Delphi club users are hoping to save the building from closure ANL-160628-154914009

As concerns over the future of a community centre in Sudbury grow, users have decided to take action and are looking to get more groups to use it.

In February, Sudbury Town Council gave notice that it would be reviewing its position of managing the Delphi Club in Newton Road, with the site still owned by Delphi Diesel Systems.

Since then the users of the centre have held regular meetings to determine how best to respond and have decided the best way to secure its future is to become more proactive and ensure everybody knows what facilities are available at the centre and to increase bookings at the site.

“It was felt a more proactive approach to maximise the use of the club was required in order to reduce the club’s deficit and fully utilise the facility,” said Jack Owen, Sudbury town councillor and member of the users group.

“We are therefore getting directly involved in the promotion of the club and are inviting sports clubs, societies, organisations and individuals to make enquiries about the availability of the sports facilities.

“It has an enclosed sports field and the club itself has an outstanding dance floor and several rooms are available for meetings, parties and dances.”

The council is currently running the centre on a one year lease, but with a large amount of work required on the building there is concern over its future.

In September the town council will decide on one of three options: to consider owning the Delphi Centre outright, to come up with an exit strategy if it decides to cut its ties with the centre, or to support another group or beneficiary coming in to run or buy the site.

Town clerk Jacqui Howells said: “It’s not in the town council’s remit to take over and run everything but there will be support if anyone takes over.”

She said there could be problems with securing funding for the building as traditionally the Delphi gave out five-year leases.

With roof repairs potentially costing up to £100,000, Mrs Howells felt this kind of investment would require the site being bought outright or on a lease of at least 25 years, something she was not sure the landowners would agree to.

For now the Delphi User Group is working on making sure the centre is used to its full potential to show how important it is to the community.

“The Centre has become an important venue for a least 12 individual clubs and organisations who would find it difficult to find somewhere locally as an alternative,” said John Sayers, Sudbury town and Suffolk county councillor and member of the users group.

“Sudbury does not have a community building, unlike neighbouring towns and villages.”

Mr Sayers said attempts to form an organisation to run the centre from the end of March, 2017, depended upon a practical lease agreement with Delphi and some start-up capital.

He added: “Efforts are now being made to attract new customers, whilst individuals are already coming forward to help, which includes improving the appearance of the interior which has been neglected.

“It is encouraging to note that a number of individuals have made offers of financial support and I would like to think town councillors might consider making a grant as with other establishments in town.

“We are looking ahead with optimism, and I hope to be in a position to present our town council with a convincing business plan in September.”

The sports ground and changing facilities are available every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Bookings can be made at the Sudbury Town Council offices and the premises can be inspected by appointment, directly at the club or via Sudbury Town Hall.

“With your support we are confident of the club’s future and will be having discussions over the next few months, with Delphi and the town council, about how best this can be achieved”, said Mr Owen.

For more information contact Ray Ward, chairman of the Delphi User Group, on 01206 263189 or 4vathelp@gmail.com.