Press Release - 26 April 2024

Submitted on 26 April 2024 by Carrianne Houghton

PRESS RELEASE

26 April 2024

 

 

In their most recent correspondence with Earl Shilton Town Council, the solicitors acting on behalf of Age UK have indicated that they may be open to discussing the terms of a new lease to enable the continuation of services at Kings Walk, which is the most encouraging news ESTC have received from Age UK for some time.

 

Basic facts:

·         Earl Shilton Town Council own the land and the buildings.

·         Age UK are the tenant and have 46 years of a 99 year charitable lease remaining

·         The annual rent payable by Age UK to Earl Shilton Town Council is £1

·         Age UK are solely responsible for the commissioning and provision of services.

·         Patronage of services dropped significantly during the pandemic and have not recovered, as such Age UK are facing financial losses at the centre (we are advised)

·         If Age UK cease service provision at the centre, it immediately reverts back to Earl Shilton Town Council

What do Age UK want?

 

Age UK want to be able to sub-let the Kings Walk centre on a commercial basis, currently they are in talks with a management company to run the centre on their behalf.

 

We are aware that the centre has been advertised for rent at £42,000 per annum by Innes England, without the knowledge or consent of Earl Shilton Town Council.

 

What is the problem?

 

The current charitable lease specifically prohibits any form of sub-let and any kind of commercial usage of the centre.

Additionally the current 1971 lease is vague in a number of key areas, for example there is only a requirement that 'the centre be used', not a specific requirement for provision of services for over 65's.

 

There are also concerns that Age UK's nominated sub-tenant are a property management company who rent space by the hour to anyone and everyone, and in no way provide any kind of community services.

This means that there may well be a situation that if the Council just agreed without change to Age UK's request, that the Council would receive £1 a year, Age UK would be receiving around £40,000 per annum income for the next 46 years and still withdraw their services completely the day after the agreement was signed.

 

What is the Council doing?

 

The Council have been in discussions with Age UK for a number of months and have sought guidance from their legal advisers and from a specialist barrister on how best to proceed.

Based on that advice we have invited Age UK to discuss a new commercial lease that would allow them to sub-let the centre as requested, with the key component being a legally binding minimum service delivery clause to Guarantee the provision of services for the over 65's into the future.

 

More recently the Council have secured a commercial building surveyor to inspect the centre, both to ascertain its current condition and confirm that it is still structurally safe and sound for residents to use, and to form part of that new lease.

 

I am aware that this has been described as the Council undertaking preliminary works to knock the centre down and build houses.  That statement is simply not true, the Council has NO intention of selling the Kings Walk site.

 

If, and hopefully that is a big if, Age UK vacate the centre and the condition report indicates serious structural problems with the buildings, Earl Shilton Town Council may redevelop the site with a new building to act as a community centre/town hall/council office etc.

 

Some Background

 

For more than a decade Earl Shilton Town Council have been talking about building its own premises, having always rented offices.

 

In the last couple of years we have been pushing to move this scheme forwards and have looked at a number of sites around the town, including the Former Stoneycroft Club, Weavers Springs, The Cemetery, Earl Shilton Town Cricket Club, and the Kings Walk centre.

 

In April/May 2022 at Age UK's invite, Councillors visited the centre to look around and see if it would meet the Council's requirements - in a number of crucial respects it did not.

 

In October 2022 Age UK wrote to Earl Shilton Town Council asking if the Council would be interested in buying the buildings / remainder of the lease for £475,000.  This was agreed not to be best use of public money.

Move forwards to November/December 2022 and the next suggestion from Age UK was to sell the site in its entirety and split the proceeds 50/50 between Age UK and Earl Shilton Town Council.   Council have no intention of selling the site.

 

August 2023 Age UK  that the Centre Manager will be leaving at the end of September 2023 and services will be wound down and are looking to advertise/sublet the remainder of the Lease.  Discussions have been ongoing since.

 

Earl Shilton Town Council have no control over what representatives of Age UK choose to say in public, however inaccurate or misleading those statements may be. 

 

I can only say that we are committed to retaining services for residents at the Kings Walk centre.

 

Kind Regards,

 

Richard Allen

Chairman

Earl Shilton Town Council 


© 2016 - Clerk: Mark Jackson, Public Library, Wood Street, LE9 7NE