A community hub is set to be built in Twydall and Chatham’s central Contact Point at Riverside One will gain a new home making it easier for local people to gain benefits and housing advice.

The move is being funded by surplus money provided from the council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA).

The council has already allocated £5.5million to build new council housing for Medway and up to £5million annually to upgrade bathrooms and kitchens in local social housing where needed.

Further funding is also already set aside for carrying out routine maintenance on council house properties, and rents are not affected.

But as the HRA had a surplus of £4million at the end of the last financial year, and is on target to produce a further £1million surplus at the end of this one, the council is using £2million under its powers to fund a community hub in Twydall, a new location for the Riverside One building in Chatham and the new Community Hub at Strood.

Community Hubs provide all the services of a traditional library – such as books, CDs, DVDs, ebooks, talks, events and childrens’ activities – and have a walk in advice centre where residents can arrange, or find out about, council services.

The Riverside One building is for residents seeking advice on housing and benefits and is currently located next to the bus station. Placing it in a new location will ensure it provides better facilities for local people.

Cllr Alan Jarrett, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “The council is committed to providing community hubs across Medway to give people a local link to their council’s services and to increase footfall in shopping areas where they are based.

“In addition, a new location for Riverside One will be sourced that will have much better facilities and be more accessible for local people.

“It is very good news that we are able to use the surplus balance in our Housing Revenue Account in order to fund these new local services and to help the local communities where they will be based.”

Other councils in the south east are understood to be looking into transferring surplus funds from their HRA balance. Oxford City Council transferred £7million earlier this month.

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