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By Tristan Harris Friday 11 April 2014 Updated: 15/04 23:51
THE FUTURE of a Bromsgrove Women’s Institute group, which has been running for more than half a century, could be in doubt after the price of the venue where they meet doubled in just two years.
Sidemoor WI, which has 21 members, get together on a monthly basis at Willow Court and in 2012 it cost them £20 for three hours.
In 2013, the fee went up to £30 and now the building’s own-ers Bromsgrove District Housing Trust has increased it further to £45.
Members pay £2 each per session which is subsidised by fund-raising events.
As well as providing much-needed social events for members, the group has also donated Easter eggs to autistic children at Sunfield Children’s Home in Clent and knits blankets and baby tops for maternity units in Uganda which are urgently needed.
President Jenny Eddins told The Standard the building was perfect as it was within walking distance for members, many of whom did not drive, and it was also warm and had a lounge, kitchen and disabled toilets.
As the group meets 11 times a year, the annual bill in 2012 was £220 and £330 in 2013. On top of that, the group has to fund guest speakers as well.
Now that has spiralled to £505 and, said Mrs Eddins, and if that continued, the group would not be able to cover the cost and would be forced to close.
She said: “It is very important for the group to continue, but it seems more important for them to make a profit than for a group of mature ladies to attend their meetings at a reasonable rent.
“I feel it is vital to keep community groups going, as we do charitable work in the community too.”
Coun Mallett, who Jenny wrote to about the issue, said: “I under-stand the trust has been hit by Government cuts, but do think the increase coming all at once is excessive.
“I hope the trust can get togeth-er with the WI and come to some compromise.”
Mark Robertson, managing director at the trust, said: “As a not-for-profit organisation our costs are completely transparent and we strive to keep our room hire rates as low as possible.
“We do recognise that in terms of a percentage this increase seems large, but £45 is a reason-able rate for room hire in the area and we need to meet our own run-ning costs and the price rises we are facing ourselves.
“Unfortunately we are unable to subsidise any room hire rates as the knock-on effect would mean passing costs onto our own ten-ants which would be unfair.
”Anyone who can help Sidemoor WI or who has suggestions about a solution to its plight can call Jenny on 01527 831692.
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