FEARS are growing over the future of an Ilfracombe community centre after One Ilfracombe rejected an offer to take control of the building.
The Lantern in Ilfracombe High Street was forced to close last October to undergo essential structural repairs, leading to the relocation of a number of community groups and the closure of the centre’s Genie Cafe.
Although building work has yet to begin, Devon County Council, current owner of the building, confirmed the repairs would be undertaken once a new owner was found.
However, it has been revealed that One Ilfracombe has pulled out of negotiations to take control of the building.
Ron Ley, chairman of the One Ilfracombe board, said the group was unable to carry out additional work required for the building to reopen.
He said: “The inside is rather out of date now and requires further investment and One Ilfracombe, in its early stage as it is now, doesn’t have access to the money to undertake those renovations.
“Neither does it have the ability to subsidise the running cost of the building at this point in time.
“We are committed in many other areas. It’s just the requirements of taking the building on are just a step too far.”
The issue was discussed at last week’s town council meeting, which saw councillors raise concerns over the future of the building.
Mayor Lynda Courtnage said the council was eager for the building to reopen, but was concerned it would become a financial liability.
She said: “I gather from what I have seen that the business case is not practical for the town council to take on. We need to look at other options.
“It would be nice if there was some form of benefactor in the community.
“We have got enough resources to run it, but there’s just no business case strong enough to refurbish it and let it out.
“I have had a lot of people asking me when it’s going to be reopened, but there’s no point in taking it on if it’s going to be a wreck and ruin inside. ”
The council has now set up a working group tasked with resolving the situation.
Lynda said: “I’m not confident that we will be able to find a solution. It would be wrong of me to say otherwise.”