A CENTRE at the heart of a Hampshire community has been forced to close in the face of escalating repair bills.

Over the last 40 years the African Caribbean Community Centre has welcomed hundreds of visitors for a raft of functions and events.

But the death knell has now sounded after a bid to get cash for vital repair work failed.

The former church in Trinity Road, Southampton, is leaking, is suffering from damp throughout the building and is in need of modernising.

In the past it has been used by several organisations but now just a youth steel band and an over-50s lunch club meet at the centre.

A year ago a campaign was launched to raise £300,000 to keep it open.

Tony Broomes, who has played an integral part in keeping the centre running, said: “We have got to bite the bullet on it.

“We are doing less business and less business. People are going to other places for their events. That spiral has just continued. All our clientele is going somewhere else for their functions.

“We are going to put it on the market. It would be nice for someone who can come up with something else for us to do with this but no-one has come up with anything that’s a life-saver.

“We can’t ask people to come in here with the building in this state. It’s mouldy, the roof is leaking, it’s just not fit for purpose.”

He said although the centre was closing the association was still active and would want to find an alternative venue to meet as it was particularly important for the community to have somewhere to gather following a funeral.

The building will now be put on the market in the hope funds could be raised to purchase a new building.

Tony added: “If we can raise enough funds from the sale of the building to buy something that would be good. But nothing’s wrapped up, we can’t say what we will be able to exchange. We have still got to cross that bridge.”