FRESH questions have been raised about the future of a community centre controversially sold to a private firm after its previous owners – who were still based there – went into liquidation.
The future of Mexborough Community Partnership, which sold Mexborough Resource Centre in 2018 to Mexborough Business Centre, is unclear after a winding-up order was served on the partnership.
Mexborough Business Centre said it was “business as usual” for the resource centre and it had new courses coming up soon but there are doubts about how and whether MCP will continue as a charity.
The partnership did not respond to requests for comment this week.
The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, which served the winding-up petition, is understood to be trying to claw back the £300,000 grant it gave the partnership in 2006.
Barnsley-based Gibson Booth has been appointed as liquidators.
It comes almost two years after the partnership sold the publicly-owned facility on Dolcliffe Road to nearby Mexborough Business Centre, which agreed to provide office space for MCP as part of a deal to buy the centre by instalments.
Councillors cast doubt on whether the sale of a community asset to a private firm was wise and said the £120,000 sale price represented poor value for money and questioned where the money from the monthly instalments was going.
The Coalfields Regeneration Trust also questioned the sale of a community asset to a private firm at the time.
Chief executive Gary Ellis said this week: “We are aware that Mexborough Community Partnership has been placed into liquidation.
“We are disappointed with this outcome and had proposed a solution that would ensure the funds generated from the proceeds of the sale of their building would support local projects for the Mexborough community for years to come.
“Now that the organisation has been placed into liquidation, we will continue to work with our advisors to ensure that maximum benefit for the Mexborough community is achieved.”
Mexborough councillor Sean Gibbons said there were many questions posed by the liquidation. including whether the sale to Mexborough Business Centre would be upheld, whether MCP would continue as a charity
In an email to the CRT, he said it was “extremely frustrating and disappointing that this action has had to be taken”, adding: “Our concern is the worry that most of the funds will be spent on lawyers and leave very little left to benefit the town.”
Steve Cooper, sales manager for Mexborough Business Centre, said: “We were very sorry to hear the news that Mexborough Community Partnership had gone into liquidation.
“We had worked closely with them to bring in various training courses and community activities to the resource centre.
Unfortunately, the current coronavirus situation has affected many businesses, charities and community projects.
“We will be working with the administrators under the current situation to ensure everything runs smoothly.
“At the moment, everything remains the same - our training programs and activities can continue with new and future bookings already being made.
“We aim to continue to support our local community and surrounding areas the best we can - the simple answer is ‘It’s business as usual’.”
Two courses with Rotherham College start later this month – cake decorating and mindfulness through arts and crafts.
For more information about the courses, which take place on Monday from September 21, call 07807 720530 or email email@example.com