THE REOPENING of a community centre previously closed by debt has been welcomed.

The Dram Centre in Ridgeway, Dalton, fully reopens today – despite outstanding debts – for bookings by community groups and public organisations.

Moldgreen Rugby Club and Dalton Crusaders Football Club began changing and showering at the centre at the end of February after around three months without a home.

The clubs and community groups were locked out when the centre closed in October with debts of over £110,000 in unpaid bills and rent.

But Kirklees Council Culture and Leisure Services has taken over as caretaker manager of the centre and is examining options for a partnership to manage the centre permanently.

Kirklees Cabinet members will decide which option to use and it is expected a board of directors will be finalised by summer.

Is it thought Deighton-based community enterprise Fresh Horizons will be on the directors’ board.

The council has paid to reopen and run the centre until permanent management for the centre is established.

Kirklees Council is one of the main organisations owed money by the DRAM Centre’s previous managers.

But the council has declined to disclose the amount it is owed, stating it is a ‘private matter’.

Kirklees Council and Dalton councillors welcomed the centre’s reopening but pledged to make sure the same mistakes were not repeated.

John Fletcher, Kirklees Assistant Head of Culture and Leisure Services, said: “There’s been plenty of interest. My phone has been hot with people who need to use it.

“We hope it will be fully operational from Monday and hope to gather momentum from there.

“We need to a board of trustees to oversee it and support it and make sure some of the things that happened in the old regime don’t happen again.”

Dalton Lib Dem councillor Roger Battye said: “It’s been sadly missed. The people who really want to use it have realised that a new model has to be found and we really have to make proper use of it.”

Dalton Labour councillor Peter McBride added: “It has taken over six months to sort out the mess.

“The reopening is an opportunity for community groups to use it, for Moldgreen to be properly provided for and an opportunity for a range of sports for boys and girls to be focussed round the centre.”

The Dram Centre is open for meetings, functions and other events by community, public and private organisations as well as individuals.

It has function rooms, a bar and kitchen.

To make a booking call Phil Bates: 01484 223178.