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Reading African Caribbean club gets lifeline

ICONIC: The well known exterior of Central Club which has been disused since 2006

LOCAL COUNCILLORS in Reading have allowed a minority group additional time to raise money in order to save an African and Caribbean community club.

Known as the Central Club, it was shut by authorities in 2006 after police raided the premises for drugs.

For the club to be refurbished and reopened, the African Caribbean Community Association (ACCA) must acquire £400,000.

Thus far ACCA has mustered £100,000 of the money needed to save the club. Reading Borough Council helped reduce the total sum needed by pledging £220,000 to the estimated £620,000 required to pay for building and renovation works for the site in London Street.

The council has granted ACCA until the end of 2013 to raise the rest of the money needed.

Lead councillor for community engagement, Jan Gavin, said: “For the African and Caribbean Community Association to raise £100,000 in the current economic climate is a tremendous achievement on their part.

“I know they have been working hard to maintain a high profile and identify possible funding opportunities, with some success.

“The proposed extension of the lease would give them a opportunity to continue with that work and towards reaching their goal which is to see the Central Club brought back into community use.”

According to the council, community-wide support for the club exists. In a 2008 survey, respondents “generally wanted to see the existing Central Club site used.”

The council said: “People wanted to see an inclusive centre, with a range of activities for young and old, with an emphasis on social and cultural activities and with some educational programmes and a place for advice, information and support.”

The extension and support from the council is welcome news to Reading’s black community, which has attached significant importance to the disused club, famous for its bold mural.

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