Concern over £25k loss at Whitworth

A COUNCILLOR has said he is “very concerned” about the financial situation hanging over the Whitworth Centre in Darley Dale after it reported a loss of £25,000 for the financial year.

Derbyshire County Council’s Cllr Mike Longden has put questions to Darley Dale Town Council about the running of the centre following a heated debate at a recent meeting.

One town councillor questioned financial decisions made by the board of the Whitworth Centre Ltd, which oversees the running of the building and the adjoining park, claiming the council should be able veto any decision they make to prevent further losses.

The council is the sole trustee of the centre.

Cllr Longden, who represents the Derwent Valley area, said: “I was very concerned about what I heard at the meeting, which has led me to write to the town council with concerns and questions.

“From the meeting it sounded like it’s a loss-making operation and that we have just accepted it.

“This is an opportunity for the town council to look at how this is set up. The money has to be used in the right way.”

There was concern that the board was looking to spend up to £200,000 to open a cafe at the Whitworth Centre, an idea that members defended, saying it was just one possible idea at the moment.

Members of the board – many of which also serve on the town council – say that the centre has been losing money for years, and ideas to claw back the deficit are still needed.

But despite this, Cllr Longden is not concerned by the long-term future of the Whitworth Centre.

“It’s a superb place, the facilities are fantastic,” he added.

“I do not think it’s a realistic possibility of it closing down, the losses are manageable but they have to be mindful that they are trading at a loss and as a board they have to provide a sustainable financial plan.

“I want to help in any way I can to make it a viable, sustainable model.

“It is the jewel in the crown of Darley Dale and we have a responsibility to maintain it for the public.”