Steps to safeguard the area around a busy South Yorkshire community centre have won the financial support of a renewable energy firm.
After the Dunford Parish Community Centre suffered a break in and its adjoining playing fields were subject to a number of incidents of anti-social behaviour, Dunford Parish Community Association, which is responsible for managing the venue, took steps to help protect it.
These included putting security gates over all the entrances and making the car park separate from the fields through the installation of posts and a lockable barrier.
To further secure the premises, the Association wanted to install an infra-red CCTV system that had been designed by Alistair Birks, a committee member with experience of working in the security industry, which would enable the Centre and its surroundings to be remotely monitored via computer at all times.
After being awarded a £4,460 grant from the Community Benefits Fund linked to Banks Renewables’ nearby Hazlehead Wind Farm, the Association has been able to install the new system, which has at least two cameras providing coverage of every part of the building’s exterior, as well as of the playing fields and nearby roads.
It’s the fourth time that Banks Renewables has contributed towards improvement works at the Crow Edge Community Centre, with previous grants totalling almost £15,000 supporting different parts of a programme of major repair and improvement carried out over the last few years in order to secure the building’s future.
The Centre was originally founded in the 1960s as a sports and social club for employees of the Hepworth Iron Company and is one of very few venues of its type in the local area.
It is leased by Dunford Parish Council, operated on its behalf by Community Association and is available to host a range of events and activities free of charge to residents or non-profit organisations centred within the parish who wish to run groups open to all people living within Dunford Parish.
The hall and field are also available for hire to any organisations or individuals for private functions and meetings.
Alec Barber, treasurer at Dunford Parish Community Association, says: “The Centre and playing fields play a central role in community life and we wanted to do as much as we could to protect them for local people.
“Alongside the break in, we’d had problems with the car park being used for dangerous driving and with groups of young people using the building rear as a cover for smoking.
“There have also been a number of dog walkers persistently not clearing up after their animals, even though there are dog bins available, and this was increasingly becoming a significant issue as we sometimes let out the field to other groups for camping.
“The new CCTV cameras give us excellent visibility right around the building and down the fields, and the quality of the system we specified means we’re able to get identifiable images of any suspicious activity from a good distance away and at any time of the day or night.
“We’ve seen incidents of anti-social behaviour dropping since the cameras were put in place, which would indicate that they’re doing their job, and we would hope to see this downward trend continuing.
“Banks Renewables’ backing has enabled us to undertake and complete a range of projects that might otherwise have remained out of reach or taken far longer to fund, and we remain very grateful for their continuing support.”
Eligibility for funding from the Hazlehead Wind Farm Community Benefits Fund is normally restricted to schemes within the parish of Dunford, but projects outside this area may be eligible if it can be shown that they benefit people living within it.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at Banks Renewables, adds: “The members of Dunford Parish Community Association put a great deal of time and energy into providing the best possible community facilities for local people, and we’re very pleased that revenues being generated by the Hazlehead wind farm are being used to protect and enhance this invaluable venue.”
Groups interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.