THE future of a multimillion- pound flagship building took another twist last night.
It has emerged that Southampton’s £10.5m Eastpoint Centre is no longer an asset of the charity that previously ran the troubled conference business, which has now gone bust.
The Daily Echo understands control will revert to the people of Thornhill through charity Plus You Limited (PYL) once the lease is surrendered.
Debbie King, chief executive of PYL, said: “The building will revert to PYL when the lease is surrendered, and that has not legally happened yet. The administrators are still in situ as these transfers do not happen overnight.”
She could not confirm what the building would be used for but confirmed the £6m-plus public money invested would be protected.
She added: “All public money ploughed into that building is actively protected, because the building is coming back to us. We are here to benefit the community but we don’t want to release half-baked information about what will happen.”
PYL board meetings will take place over the coming weeks to make decisions on the building’s future.
Administrators Baker Tilly confirmed they could not sell the building to pay off creditors.
James Prior, of the Southampton branch, said: “It’s a slightly odd situation because the charity built the centre, but it’s on PYL’s land. Due to semantics in the lease it could previously be put in the charity’s accounts as an asset.”
Meanwhile, Baker Tilly confirmed that more than 30 creditors, who they would not identify, are owed more than £150,000, although the figure could change as claims are still being collated.
It comes as staff were reduced to tears when told their jobs had gone at a meeting with Baker Tilly representatives.
Many knew their positions were under threat but some said they only learned of the severity of the situation as recently as Tuesday.
But while some were too upset to speak to the Daily Echo, others reflected on fond times spent with colleagues who became firm friends.
Carol Shakery, Eastpoint deputy director, said: “This charity has been supporting the local community for more than 25 years and we all worked very hard to get this facility here. With it closing in the way it has, the community has lost a fantastic opportunity for a local hub.
“There are a lot of staff here who have done more than they have ever been paid to do to provide some great things for local people over that period of time.”
Former bar worker Jackie Park, 47, of Thornhill, said: “We are gutted for the elderly customers who come here every day.
“I feel so bad for them and all the people who have booked the venue.
“We were a good bunch and worked really well together.”
Staff have been paid up to the end of January. Several qualify for redundancy pay after working there for two or more years, but will have to go through a Government redundancy scheme to recoup what they are owed.