Lease of life for youth centre

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Hawick Youth Centre is set to be leased by Scottish Borders Council to a charitable voluntary sector organisation on a peppercorn rent.

Escape Youth Services, which runs a popular café in the town, will pay £1 a year for the Havelock Street facility, which is currently run by SBC’s community learning department.

The council’s executive, which gave the go-ahead for the arrangement on Tuesday, heard that the centre, although in reasonable condition, was substantially under-used.

In contrast, Escape’s privately-rented first-floor premises in the town’s Commercial Road is bustling with 120 registered young members and a range of activities on six evenings a week.

Under the lease agreement, Escape will be responsible for all upgrades, rates and running costs at the centre, but will have access to funding sources not available to the council. SBC will offer revenue support of nearly £25,000 as part of a service level agreement in the first year, tapering to zero over the 25 years of the lease.

In return, SBC’s community learning department will be able to use parts of the premises from time to time.

The deal has an escape clausewhereby the charity can terminate the lease at any time with one-month’s written notice.