Veras Academy karate club in fight for its home as Hyde tries to sell Ringcross Community Centre
- Credit: Archant
An Islington Karate Club is fighting for its future amid fears of possible closure.
The Veras Academy, based at the Ringcross Community Centre, trains more than 200 students each week. Fighters, known as karatekas, range from four to 70.
Teacher Patricia Perote told the Gazette: “It’s very hard to find a place to run a ‘dojo’. We need lots of space and storage for our equipment. If we are forced to move out it will be difficult for everyone. The fear is some people will just give up.”
It is one of a number of user groups at the centre facing an uncertain future. The owner, Hyde Housing, is looking to lease the building because of spiralling costs.
According to Hyde, Ringcross is being used at just 22 per cent of capacity. About £12,000 of bookings has been made this year, leaving a shortfall of £94,500. It now wants to lease the building to a community group instead of running it directly.
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Islington housing chief Cllr Diarmuid Ward said: “I’m very concerned by some of the language Hyde are using as a social landlord. They have a moral obligation to assist with community facilities and I’m disappointed with the approach that’s been taken.” Cllr Ward and community development boss Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz will meet a member of Hyde’s executive board to discuss the situation.
Hyde said it had found six venues within a mile clubs could use instead. But Lani Parker, secretary of the Friends of Ringcross, said: “We asked for information about which centres they’d looked at but they’re not comparable. Ringcross has a big hall, which is great for sport.
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“We know community centres don’t make a lot of money, but they exist for the benefit of local people, not to serve as profitable assets.” The consultation ends on December 20. A decision is due next month.
Last week the Gazette reported how users of Packington Community Centre – also known as The Arc – were facing a similar problem.
Hyde said the hub, which it built itself as part of the estate regeneration, was too expensive to continue running without leasing it out to a third party.
About a third of its costs are currently met through bookings.