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Centre reopened after £800,000 revamp

PUBLISHED: 12:43 20 November 2008 | UPDATED: 10:16 23 August 2010

A COMMUNITY centre destroyed by arsonists has been reopened after an £800,000 refurbishment. Istead Rise Community Centre, Worcester Close, Istead Rise, burnt down in March last year after arsonists broke in and stole £5,000. Centre users celebrated the

A COMMUNITY centre destroyed by arsonists has been reopened after an £800,000 refurbishment.

Istead Rise Community Centre, Worcester Close, Istead Rise, burnt down in March last year after arsonists broke in and stole £5,000.

Centre users celebrated the final completion of the building work on Friday, November 14 when it was officially opened by Mayor of Gravesham Ken Jones. Mr Jones, who represents the Istead Rise ward on Gravesham Borough Council, is president of the Istead Rise Community Association, which runs the centre and helped raised money to fund the original facility nearly 30 years ago.

He said; "What has been done is absolutely first class. To see it restored is great news.

"Many have been involved, but I would particularly thank Colin Ritchie as secretary and Carole Iles as manager; also my colleague councillor David Turner who was involved not only in the rebuild but also in the provision of the original centre."

The hall was opened in 1980 by Tim Brinton, the Conservative MP for Gravesend. During the break-in last year, thieves stole money from fruit machines and raided the safe, before setting fire to the bar area.

After receiving the insurance money, building work was started by Apex Construction in March, this year. The refurbished hall can now hold 300 people, has a new bar and improved security. Building work was finally completed at the end of last month.

Colin Ritchie, the secretary of the association, said: "I am personally very happy with how it looks now. It has a much more modern feel, and security has also been improved to stop something like this happening again.

"We have had a tremendous amount of people saying how much it has improved and how they like the design."

"We are delighted to be opening the centre again to the community, so the clubs and associations that used the centre, like indoor bowls, Age Concern and gymnastics can return once more."

Mayor Ken Jones has organised a quiz night to be held at the centre this Saturday, to raise money for the mayor's charities.

ed.riley@archant.co.uk

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