Winchester’s Voluntary sector and City Council working together for positive future

Winchester City Council is working with Winchester Area Community Action (WACA) and other voluntary organisations to find the best accommodation to meet their needs, following recent impacts on funding due to the economic climate.

Recommended options for the future of the Winchester Centre in St George’s Street, and how best to progress with working in partnership with our vital voluntary sector organisations, will be considered by Winchester City Council’s Cabinet Committee on 16 March.

The recommendations in the report ask Cabinet to accept surrender of the lease on the Winchester Centre subject to certain conditions, and allow work to create a suite of accommodation suitable for some voluntary sector partners within the Council’s City Offices building in Colebrook Street.

Paul Williams Chief Executive of WACA said, “This is a great opportunity to create a new ‘community hub’ for Winchester, enabling WACA to develop a self-contained space for voluntary and community groups to meet, train and work together in the centre of Winchester – while lowering costs and maximising support for the public – what the voluntary sector does best.”

Cllr Kelsie Learney, Leader of Winchester City Council said, “We have been exploring options for the organisations being affected by the changes in public sector funding, and have the opportunity to provide accommodation within our own offices for some partners to facilitate a new way of working between the City Council and the independent voluntary sector. Although this is a difficult time for these organisations I hope this signals a bright future for a voluntary sector in Winchester that continues to thrive.”

Whilst exploring options for the future accommodation needs, an opportunity has arisen to let almost all of 68 St George’s St to a new occupier on a non-secure lease for a minimum of 2 years from 1 April 2011. This would bring in much-needed income and would mean that ideas the longer term future of the building could be explored while market conditions improve.

The prospective new occupiers would not need the part of the building currently occupied by CAB (Winchester), providing an option for the CAB to stay on in the building on new terms, and giving them time to consider how their needs can best be met in the medium term.