Cash pleas for flood damage

A CASH-STRAPPED leisure centre which suffered �35,000 of flood damage during rain storms earlier this month has been refused help by Nailsea Town Council.

The Times reported on August 8 that buildings in Nailsea were flooded during torrential downpours, with Avon Fire and Rescue Service answering 80 calls to help people bail out their homes during one night alone.

Flooding at Grove Sports and Social Centre was caused by the water table on the field being so high that it poured in through the doors, with some areas of the St Marys Grove building covered in almost nine inches of water.

Carpets have had to be ripped out in both bars, the hallway, function room and a room used by the local playgroup and, more than two weeks on, the floors and walls are still being dried out by a professional company charging �3,500 a week.

The centre, on town council-owned land, is run by a committee.

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On August 22 it asked the council’s leisure facilities committee for a loan to help pay its VAT bill, expected to be about �6,000, which it needs to pay upfront, before claiming it back from its insurance company.

Chairman Simon Brierley said: “We have stayed open as a goodwill gesture to all the clubs which use the centre, but we have 28 fans and dehumidifiers running daily.

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“We have approached our bank for a loan or overdraft and, in principle, it has agreed, but it has to go through a long process and in the meantime we are losing money.”

Cllr Mary Ponsonby said she believed in supporting the centre ‘110 per cent’ but was worried about lending money.

She said: “I know the VAT will come back and I understand it has to be paid but things are very tight at the moment.

“Over the years, as a community, we have helped the Grove when it has struggled financially because we don’t want it to go under but there is an element of risk to us as a council.”

Town council chairman Rod Lees said: “I think it’s wrong for the council to be a bank, it could set a precedent.”

Cllr Clare Hunt said the Grove committee should set up a contingency fund to cover emergencies in the future.

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