We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Brentwood Centre: Demand made for urgent external investigation

February 14, 2021 8:33 PM

Entrance to Brentwood Centre (www.creativecommons.org)The sudden closure of the Brentwood Centre in October left Councillors and residents shocked that the management company ,Brentwood Leisure Trust (BLT), had become insolvent owing in excess of a million pounds and with unpaid wages despite years of financial support from Brentwood Borough council (BBC).

What is equally shocking is that despite a full programme of sports, fitness and entertainment ,up until lockdown, the centre had fallen into a state of disrepair. Areas behind the scenes were dilapidated and in some cases unsafe and illegal to the point putting staff at risk.

How had BLT, its management and trustees been allowed to operate for years taking significant financial support from BBC without redress? Where was the monitoring of its financial viability , development and operating structure?

Local ward councillors Barry Aspinell, David Kendall and Vicky Davies had asked the Tory administration repeatedly over four years for the centre management to be scrutinised, as residents complaints mounted and concerns escalated. Sadly these requests were ignored and Tory run BBC was hoodwinked into allowing a failing organisation to continue to operate accruing debts in excess of £1M.

Cllr Vicky Davies said: "I question the role of the Conservative councillors appointed as trustees on the BLT and their role in this debacle. Appreciating trustees have a primary duty to the charitable trust should they not have been monitoring its financial performance and failings and raising concerns with Brentwood council at an early stage? Why did this not happen?"

The ward councillors are now demanding an independent audit be undertaken to identify what went wrong as so much public money has been invested over past years .

Cllr Davies added, "An internal Conservative-led council investigation is not adequate. We need a full external investigation to identify where the public money was spent opening it up to public scrutiny".

Cllr Vicky DaviesCllr Vicky Davies has been ward councillor for Pilgrims Hatch since 2010.