Lancashire County Council controversial charging plan reviewed

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A CONTROVERSIAL plan to charge community and voluntary groups for the use of county council buildings is to be reviewed.

Lancashire County Council had announced it was looking to change its policy, causing anger among groups including the Stoops and Hargher Clough Community Group.

The Burnley Express recently reported the concerns of the group, which said it might have to cut some of its services to young people if the charges came in.

The review will identify exactly what activities are being carried out by voluntary sector and other organisations in county council premises and to determine how they support the council’s priorities.

Until this work is completed, with the exception of profit-making organisations, existing users will be charged at their pre-September 2012 rates while the review is being undertaken.

County Coun. Geoff Driver, leader of the county council, said: “The council has a huge number of buildings across the county and many of them are used by other organisations when our services aren’t using them.

“Unfortunately the current arrangements have evolved over many years without a clear policy and they don’t offer good value for money to the taxpayers who ultimately pay for the buildings to be maintained.

“We recognise that many organisations do things that support our aims and the policy was never intended to harm those organisations financially. We’ll make sure that groups have plenty of time to prepare for any changes that might affect them.

“We will also look at instances where community associations are charging groups to use the county council’s premises.”