Volunteers' anger over charges at Burnley community centre
COMMUNITY groups run by volunteers donating their time for free are being forced to pay for sessions they deliver.
Bosses at the Stoops and Hargher Clough Community Centre in Burnley said they received a letter from Lancashire County Council last month that said charges would come into effect on Saturday.
They said no details had been given about how much groups will be asked to pay.
Group spokesman Chris Keene said: “To date no details have been received of the level of charges that will be introduced.
“This means the council appear to expect unfunded voluntary groups to run sessions without knowing what debts they will be building up.
“In addition to this lack of notice there has been no consultation, which could result in seven volunteer-led sessions per week for children being suspended or shut completely.”
More than 100 parents, children and volunteers from the Venice Street centre launched lanterns on Saturday night to mark the launch of a campaign against the announcement.
Mr Keene said: “I believe the council has behaved in a shameful way that shows understanding of the issues facing voluntary groups in Lancashire, especially those which operate in disadvantaged areas like ours.
“Their failure to consult with voluntary groups about the possible impact of this ill-considered and rushed action shows a lack of respect for the very volunteers David Cameron claims he wants to sign up for his vaguely defined Big Society.
“We call upon the council to delay the introduction of charges until April 1 next year, which would allow for a period of proper consultation.”
No one from the council was available for comment.