THE future of an arts centre hangs in the balance just two years after a national charity took charge.

Crime reduction charity Nacro stepped in to manage Hanger Farm as part of its merger with Totton College in 2015.

But now town chiefs at Totton and Eling Council have told the Echo they are looking for new managers for the centre – with the decision leading to one councillor resigning from his position on the college’s education forum because of what he says is a lack of transparency.

Speaking to the Echo, Councillor David Harrison – who set up the forum in the absence of a college board of governors – said the council was told of Nacro’s decision to give up the arts centre before discussing it with the forum.

Mr Harrison said: “I’ve been involved with Hanger Farm from the outset. Anything that causes uncertainty and affects the potential of Hanger Farm is unwelcome.

“It’s an intrinsic part of the community. I was unhappy about the lack of consultation. It seems decisions are being made without speaking to the community.”

But Nacro’s director of education Lisa Capper, denied the accusations and said: “The principal has kept the Totton Education Forum (TEF) updated on all developments regarding the college. Sometimes this is when developments are at an early stage, as in this case” and added that the forum has been “an asset” to the college’s development.

Totton town clerk Derek Biggs confirmed Nacro had handed in their termination of notice to the council and said there is six months left on their lease.

He said: “They are trying to get out of it. If we can’t find anyone by November then the town council will take over running it.”

Totton College’s commercial business partner Fred Stanley said managers have had “exploratory conversations” with the council and an alternative provider. He added: “It is a valuable community asset and we are committed to supporting it to remain so.

“However, the running of the facility is an area of activity which falls outside the college’s main objectives” and added that Nacro want to “focus efforts and the funds” on the” educational experience of their students.”

He added that events at Hanger Farm would not be affected.

A meeting to discuss the centre’s future will be held on Wednesday at Totton Civic Centre at 7.30pm.