In 2007, Sandbach Partnership was responsible for a successful application to the North West Development Agency for a grant of £350k. This funding was used by Cheshire East Council to renovate the Sandbach Enterprise Centre. In agreement with the then Chair, Dot Flint, office space has provided free of charge to allow the Partnership to operate for the benefit of the community; successfully delivering a number of key projects.
At the time of the occupancy licence renewal in February, Cheshire East notified the Partnership that the office space would no longer be offered rent free. The Partnership put forward a number of suggestions to utilise the space to generate revenue for Cheshire East, which were unfortunately declined by the County Council in the interest of ‘rent paying offers’.
Cheshire East advised, ‘In order to keep making the centre viable, given the cost of utilities and other maintenance going forwards, it (the centre) needs to maximise its income and lettings and we (Cheshire East) have already engaged offers on the accommodation.’
Whilst it is disappointing that Cheshire East has taken this position, especially considering their decision to also cease grant funding to any of the 5 town partnerships earlier this year, the Partnership will continue to operate albeit on a remote basis.
Helen Dorney, Chair of Sandbach Partnership, commented, ‘the management team are not deterred by this recent decision by Cheshire East. We want to use the funds we have available to benefit the town and have made the decision not to pay commercial rent for an office but instead operate remotely. We reiterate our commitment to continuing to provide support to our forum members and making Sandbach a thriving place to be. We would welcome any offers of administrative and meeting space support from the local business community, please reach out to email@example.com.’