Home hangs in the balance for one or more Dromara groups after an unexpected, if some say overdue, rise in Lagan Park Centre hire costs.
If nothing can be done to offset a price-hike from £10 to £15 an hour, it’s understood at least one of the groups, who have long called the community centre home, will have no choice but to look for somewhere else to meet.
The local community group, which administers the Hillsborough Road centre, said it had held back as long as it could on the price-rise, the first since Lagan Park was opened some years ago.
“We couldn’t hold back any longer, given the rates,” a spokesperson said.
“It’s not something we wanted to do at all, but we’re a small group of volunteers here.
“We don’t want to make things difficult but we did look at what other groups are charging and we would be failing in our management of the hall if we didn’t maintain and keep it for others to use.”
According to the community group the £15 hourly charge is in fact a reversion to the amount originally charged for use of hall and kitchen before a £10 fee for the use of the hall alone became somehow established as a flat-rate for both.
Among the groups currently using the Lagan Park Centre are an exercise class, the Thursday Club (arts and crafts), Dromara Local History Group and a community art group. A source within one of the groups affected said the price rise had come as a shock and members were “far from happy”.
News of the increase triggered a round of meetings among the centre-users as they looked at available options.
Meanwhile, a number of local councillors are known to have been contacted in the hope they might help broker some sort of accommodation.
Likely key to determining the future, one way or another, will be a planned meeting with the local community group, as yet unscheduled but expected to take place in the near future.
In the absence of what our source called “a favourable outcome”, their group, they said, would “most certainly be looking for a new home”.