Charles Booth Centre, Thringstone
Transferring a community asset from Leicestershire County Council to local ownership and control
The Charles Booth Community Centre in Thringstone is reputed to be the first Community Centre in the country and was bequeathed by Charles and Mary Booth in 1903 to the people of Thringstone and surrounding villages. Leicestershire County Council took on responsibility for the charities set up by the Booths and for the Community Centre in 1950 and has managed the facilities, with the support of local people, ever since then.
Today, the Charles Booth Centre is the focus of local community life for Thringstone, Whitwick and surrounding villages. It is the venue for a wide range of community activities including pre-school, yoga, theatre, sports, arts and music groups, parties, weddings adult education sessions, a summer play-scheme and an annual music festival. The Centre grounds include a scout hall, community allotments and the fields of Bob's Close; a species-rich wet grassland.
The County Council cannot continue to support the Community Centre in the way that it has in the past and the local Centre management committees have responded positively to make changes to the way the Centre is run and to further develop the services and activities it provides. Recent work has included higher profile marketing of the Centre, making energy savings, producing an expanded entertainments programme and establishment of a new charity to take responsibility for the Centre in the future.
The committees have been supported to make changes by the County Council and the Rural Community Council in preparation for the transfer of the Centre, and the associated accounts, from the Council to the new charity before the end of 2017. The transfer of ownership will ensure the local community has full control of the future direction and operation of the Centre and will provide challenging but exciting opportunities to further develop the Centre responding to local needs as well as to local support and potential.