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October 4, 2003

Deaf club to get help to pay for rent hike

From: Sheffield Today, UK - Oct 4, 2003

A SHEFFIELD centre for the deaf has been hit with a £12,000 increase in rent – but will be given help to pay it for the next year.

The Central Deaf Club has provided services in the city for 20 years from its home on Surrey Place, next to the Millennium Galleries.
Members were distraught when council chiefs said the rent would have to increase from £18,000 to £30,000 in line with market rates.
There were both cheers and tears from members of the deaf community as they staged a protest on the steps of the town hall then packed into a council meeting to hand in a petition with 5,800 signatures.
Councillors voted for the rent rise but said they would give the club grant aid to cover the increase for next year.
Labour chiefs say they will work alongside the club to come up with a long term solution.
But the club says its future is uncertain. It fears it will be under pressure to close, especially as it's in a prime real estate location in the city centre.
Philip Richardson from the club said: "What does the future hold for the deaf community in Sheffield? This club is central to its members' lives but it seems money wins while people come way down the list."
The Lib Dems opposed the increase and said Labour had the power to set the rent at whatever level it chose.
Lib Dem Leader Paul Scriven said: "I hope this year is not going to be used to force the deaf club out.
"Give it a long-term future, not with one year's worth of grant aid but with five years' security so they can plan ahead."
Labour Leader Jan Wilson said: "When the lease came up for renewal the district auditor strongly recommended we charge a proper market rent so Sheffield citizens can see what the council's income is and how their rates are being spent.
"I'm gravely upset that people believe the council is intending to close the building.The premises are not on the market and there has been no discussion about disposing of the club.
"We do want to find a way forward and have a clear commitment to finding a long term solution."

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