A COMMUNITY organisation that’s based at Leicester’s African Caribbean Centre has won its bid to take over the running of the popular Highfields venue.
Under the city council’s Community Asset Transfer policy, the African Heritage Alliance will be granted a five-year lease to run the centre, following an open bidding process and the submission of a detailed business plan.
In its business plan, the group set out its proposals for expanding the range of community services provided at the Maidstone Road centre – such as new social activities and childcare services – and showed how it would meet the needs of the local African and Caribbean heritage community through education, support and welfare services.
Preparations for the handover of the building will now get under way, with the African Heritage Alliance expected to take over the lease in the next six to nine months.
The decision means that responsibility for repairs, maintenance and day-to-day running costs for the building will be transferred from the council to the community group, which will also pay the council a peppercorn rent of £1.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Local facilities are often best run by the people who use them and, over the years, a number of centres have already successfully transferred to community groups through our Transforming Neighbourhood Services programme.
“The results of our consultation in 2021 showed there was local support for a community group to take over the running of the African Caribbean Centre, so I hope this decision will be a positive step for the whole community.
“The African Heritage Alliance have produced a business plan that demonstrates they have the capacity, experience and resources to take on the running of the African Caribbean Centre.
“I look forward to the implementation of this plan, which will bring benefits to the community while making a significant contribution to the social and economic wellbeing of the area.”
A grant of £60,000 will support the African Heritage Alliance with running costs during the first year of their lease.
A consultation exercise in autumn 2021 showed that more than half of those who expressed a preference wanted to see a community group running the African Caribbean Centre, which provides a range of activities for local people, as well as acting as a focal point for the city’s African and Caribbean heritage community.