Key row erupts over ex-councillor's access to Sandwell community centre
A row has broken out after a former deputy mayor was told to hand over keys to a community centre she has helped to run for the last 10 years.
Carol Goult has been a member of Barlow Homes Community Centre in Oldbury for a decade but was deselected as a councillor by Labour ahead of May’s local elections after a four-year spell.
Councillor Yvonne Davies, who became the new leader of the council this month, said it was council policy that only elected councillors could have keys and asked her to return them.
Ms Goult, who was a councillor for Bristnall ,said she had been given a deadline of 10am yesterday to clear out cutlery, pots and pans – which she owns – from the centre.
Ms Goult, who was also formerly Sandwell’s deputy mayor, claims 11 community groups have been suspended from using the centre by the centre’s chairman councillor Sharon Davies.
However Councillor Davies said groups were advised to stop using the centre due to safety issues around the building – but were not told they couldn’t meet there.
Ms Goult said: “I was told if I don’t hand over the keys I will have legal action taken against me.”
“Eleven groups have been suspended from using the centre so now it is empty and no activity is happening there,” claimed Ms Goult.
The cutlery equipment came from Ms Goult’s former coffee shop which she closed after becoming a councillor.
She has had to store the items at her home leaving cupboards empty at the centre.
She also had to take home boxes of items used in a Sandwell Council scheme called Beat The Burglar.
Ms Goult believes the move against her is politically motivated due to warring factions of councillors.
She said: “We should be promoting community spirit and not playing party politics.
“I am so disappointed for the groups that used the community centre.”
However councillors Yvonne and Sharon Davies – who are not related – stressed this is not a personal attack on Carol.
Councillor Yvonne Davies said: “She has been told the hand over the keys.
“Legally she can’t keep the keys which is why we have told her to hand them over.
“We have to make sure the centre is secure. This is not personal against her.”
Councillor Sharon Davies said most groups have found new bases and only one group, called Time for Tea, meets there on Fridays.
“The police have a key, the Labour MP John Spellar has a key and so does a neighbourhood officer,” she said.
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