The Ashford Community and Heritage Centre is a community based facility, available as a venue for a range of events including exhibitions, weddings, theatre, music, museum space and community social evenings.
Due to a current controversity and disruption caused by the Ashford Community Group, we feel it necessary to, with moderation, put our side of the story out in public view so that the Community can be able to separate the truth from the stories generated and embelished by Social Media. We feel Social Media helps to change dialogue into a Cause and people loose the sence of what the original story is.
In relation to the use of Ashford Community & Heritage Centre, by the Ashford Community Group for Bingo, the Ashford Development Association Ltd. (“Association”) wishes to point out that the Association is a registered non-profit organisation run by an un-paid, voluntary board and registered as a charitable trust. As such, and in compliance with the legal requirements, the accounts of the Association are filed and published with relevant authorities.
In 2011, the Association undertook the redevelopment of the former national school for the benefit of the community and in 2014 the Ashford Community & Heritage Centre opened its doors to the service of the people of Ashford and beyond.
The Centre is managed by the Association and the Association uses all reasonable efforts to make the Centre available to all local groups who request to use it. Since 2014, the Association has managed to reasonably accommodate competing requests to use of the Centre for a wide range of activities, in the service of the community and notably absent of any controversy.
Today the Centre is used by many important Community Groups without controversy or conflict and all consider the Hall an important asset to the people of Ashford. Indeed the Ashford Community Group does in fact presently use the Centre for certain of their activities and have done so since the Centre opened its doors.
Due and appropriate consideration was given to the Ashford Community Group’s request to run Bingo sessions at the Centre for 50 / 52 consecutive weeks of the year. Put simply, the Centre could not reasonably accommodate such request principally due to other activities (as being already booked). We wrote to and met with the Ashford Community Group (in advance of that recent 4 day protest) in a good faith effort to find middle ground and to reasonably accommodate Bingo.
We respect the Ashford Community Group, its members, the work they do and community benefit which they bring. Equally however as a registered charity we too must balance the demands of the Ashford Community Group against those legal responsibilities and other interested groups use of the Centre. The narrative presented of a Centre who ‘the displaying and sale of art work is more important than older people of the community’ is simply baseless, unfair and fundamentally contrary to the very nature of those groups and activities which take place at the Centre.
The nature of the dialogue specifically on Social Media, as directed at members of the Association, is both offensive and deeply divisive. This is viewed with great regret and is not in keeping with a sense of community which we know both the Ashford Community Group and the Association espouse to. We hope that through respectful dialogue this matter can be resolved. In this regard, the Association is open to further talks on the matter and would be happy to enter mediation, if desired, to find a satisfactory solution.