COMMUNITY group is reeling after it was told it needed £5m insurance cover just to hold a coffee morning.
Skelmanthorpe Community Action Group (SCAG) were told they needed the expensive public liability insurance in order to use the village’s council chambers on Huddersfield Road.
The group were planning to meet there later this month to discuss Kirklees Council’s massive house building plans.
SCAG committee member, Christopher Ward, branded the move as "ridiculous" and said the extra costs could force dozens of local groups to move elsewhere.
He said: "SCAG and the churches and some other groups use the council chambers from time to time to meet.
"In the past the issue of insurance has never come up, we just paid £25 for a morning’s use.
"Now they’ve brought out this new booking form that says you must have the £5m public liability insurance. It also says you can’t advertise your group if you’re going to use Kirklees’ premises.
"I think what’s behind it is the new administration has got themselves into such a knot financially they are looking to cut costs in every conceivable direction. Our view is they should be providing facilities for the community.
"This is total nonsense, if this policy is pursued generally then small community groups such as ours will come to a grinding halt."
Mr Ward said the new insurance demands would cost £90 per event or around £300 if they were willing to commit to annual insurance.
With the average profits for a coffee morning being no more than £200, a large chunk of most groups’ income could now go down the drain.
Several groups are thought to be considering other locations and the Council of Churches are said to have cancelled their coffee morning events at the chambers.
A SCAG spokesman said they still plan to use the location for their April 25 coffee morning but may be forced to make other arrangements in future.
Denby Dale Ward councillor, John Cook, said he was looking into the matter, but admitted the new costs would drive groups away.
Clr Cook said: "To be quite honest I think it’s a bit of a tragedy, it prevents community groups using council facilities."
A Kirklees Council spokeswoman claimed the cover was much cheaper and could be purchased for less than £50 per year.
She said: "Public liability insurance has always been a requirement when booking Kirklees Council halls and can be found in the terms and conditions which the hirer has to sign that they have read and accepted.
"The council is insured for its own negligence but not that of anyone who hires a room. Public liability insurance is therefore required so that these groups protect themselves from risk."
Another SCAG member said it was not worth the expense nor the risk in using the chamber.
She said: "Unfortunately, there is no other facility on the main shopping route that we could use.
"Surely this is council wide, not just in Skelmanthorpe and will do little to foster community involvement in our lives thanks to Kirklees Council."