Fears for future of caribbean centre

A POPULAR Ipswich club faces an uncertain future today amid accusations of political manipulation.

A POPULAR Ipswich club faces an uncertain future today amid accusations of political manipulation.

Ipswich Caribbean Association (ICA) has still to receive its annual �50,000 grant from the Tory and Lib Dem-led borough council, which owns the association's building in Woodbridge Road.

The withholding of the cash has prompted fears that the council is planning to convert the site into a development of flats.

Councillors are due to meet behind closed doors next week to receive a confidential report on the finances of the ICA.

The borough council owns the building, which it leases to the organisation.

An earlier report to the council said: “Housing would be appropriate in this location, provided the community use is no longer needed or could be moved to a new location.”

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Senior Labour politicians are now concerned the building has a limited future under its current guise.

Albert Grant, treasurer of the association and a Labour councillor, said: “The council has indicated it wants to cut the annual �50,000 grant.

“I suspect the council wants us to move and that is why they are withholding the cash.

“Without the grant, we cannot negotiate a long-term lease on the premises, and the borough knows that.”

The association is being supported by the council's opposition Labour group.

Leader David Ellesmere said: “The �50,000 grant is �15,000 less than the ICA received a couple of years ago.

“It is no secret that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats want to use the site for redevelopment. Clearly, it would make it easier for them to get their hands on the land if the ICA as an organisation didn't exist.”

Nadia Cenci, communities portfolio holder on the executive, refuted the claims that the delay in paying the grant was linked to the future use of the building.

She said: “We suspended it in order to investigate the viability and sustainability of the ICA. We have a duty to council taxpayers that their money is safe and being wisely spent.

“Whatever decision we make next week will not take any account of the possibility of the site being used for flats.”

Should the ICA building be saved? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk