AN OXFORD community group has been given notice to leave its centre after the city council raised “serious concerns” about its management.

In an unprecedented move, Oxford City Council last night gave the East Oxford Community Association four weeks to leave the community centre in Cowley Road.

Documents obtained by the Oxford Mail show that the city council has been raising concerns about how the community centre is run for months.

And at a meeting with council officials last night the community association was served notice to leave.

It means the city council will take over the running of the community centre for the foreseeable future.

Tim Sadler, the council’s executive director for community services said: “The council has had serious concerns about the management of the community centre for some time.Despite many attempts to regularise the management practices and an agreed action plan, the association committee has not moved to rectify matters and improve the overall management of the centre.

“We have no option in circumstances where a public asset is being mismanaged other than to terminate the licence.

“The communities team will manage and run a programme of activities for local people at the community centre for the foreseeable future.”

He said the current programme of events would be retained and existing tenants would remain in the centre.

The community association is required to leave by Monday, July 21. Mr Sadler said that when the management issues surrounding the centre had been resolved, council officers will work with East Oxford’s communities over its long-term future.

City councillor for St Mary’s Craig Simmons said: “The situation cannot continue as it is and action needed to be taken, but at the moment councillors disagree on the way forward.”

East Oxford Community Association is a registered charity which runs and hires out the centre to groups and societies in the area.

All East Oxford residents are members of the association by virtue of the fact that they live in its area which means they can attend meetings and elect its officers.

Organisations which are currently based in the centre – apart from the community association – include Oxpots which runs a pottery class, Fusion Arts which runs community art lessons, and Oxford Green Print, a co-operative which provides an ethical printing service.

There are 19 community centres around Oxford which are owned by the city council, and various voluntary associations run them on behalf of the community.

East Oxford Community Association, which has managed the community centre since 1976, has a so-called ‘implied licence’ to occupy it which is a less formal arrangement than a lease.

This is the first time that the city council has stepped in to take back a community centre from an association.

East Oxford Community Association had not responded to requests for a comment at the time of going to press.

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