The loss of one of Sudbury’s key community centres would be a backwards step for the town, one regular user has warned.
The Delphi Centre in Newton Road, Sudbury, is in desperate need of repair work and updating, but these works are likely to cost thousands of pounds, potentially putting the future of the centre at risk.
One user has warned the centre’s loss would be to the detriment of the town, with a number of organisations based at the former social club for the neighbouring factory.
The building, still owned by engineering firm Delphi Diesel Systems, has been run by Sudbury Town Council since 2007, after Delphi deemed it surplus to requirements.
Wendy Jones, secretary for the Sudbury branch of the University of the Third Age (U3A), which uses the building to hold both its regular lectures and smaller sub groups, recognises the financial constraints on the town council but is hopeful the building will be saved.
The council is looking at a number of plans and Mrs Jones is hoping that the employment of a consultant could lead to a positive outcome for the centre and all of the groups that use it.
“It is very important as there is no similar venue anywhere in Sudbury that has the number of rooms with different sizes and that can accommodate as many people as the Delphi does,” said Mrs Jones.
The venue also has a bowling green and football pitch.
“I feel strongly that we need to preserve it,” she added.
U3A, which sometimes has up to 200 members meeting at the centre, is just one of a number of groups which use the former social club.
Mrs Jones said many of them, including U3A, would be “hard-pressed” to find anywhere else in the town.
But there are major issues with the Delphi.
Mrs Jones said “considerable expenditure” would be needed to bring the building up to date.
“The council know about the problems,” she said. “There is a will in the council to maintain the Delphi, but there are pressures on its budget.
“They are not looking for a profit. They just want it to be self sufficient.
“But this is a facility for the residents of Sudbury, without which life would be poorer.”
She added it would become an even greater asset if it was in better condition.
Mr Jones hopes that the employment of a consultant would allow for a business plan to be set up, advising a best way forward.
“If they can produce a plan which is acceptable in order to preserve and improve the building it would be an excellent outcome.”
Mrs Jones said a possible idea was for the building, which includes a ballroom, to become an alternative entertainment venue for the town.
She is hopeful a solution will be found but knows there is not unanimous support within the council to see public money spent on improving the 50-year-old centre.
There are concerns that if essential repair work is not carried out the building will deteriorate further, until it can no longer be used.
“It is possible that could happen if nobody puts anything into it,” she said.
“A consultant may say ‘don’t bother with it’, that would be a really sad outcome.
“The loss of the Delphi would mean the loss of an important facility for a section of Sudbury society.
“There isn’t any other venue, therefore one assumes the closure would be to their demise which is something nobody would want to see.”
Jacqui Howells, Sudbury Town Council clerk, confirmed the council was looking at a number of ways forward for the building.
“There’s no doubt it needs a lot of redecoration and work done. The building still belongs to Delphi and they are committed to the centre, but they are not in a position to be able to put in a lot of money.
“We are looking for a way forward but we have got to justify the amount of spending needed on it.”