Sun, 26 Jun 2016
A GROUP for like-minded people with technical, artistic and scientific skills is to set up a temporary base in Thatcham.
Newbury and District Hack Space is set to move into the workshop in Lower Way, owned by Thatcham Town Council, next month.
The workshop is currently used by the Thatcham Neighbourhood Wardens, who have to leave after Sovereign Housing and West Berkshire Council stop funding the service on June 30.
And while the long-term future of the workshop is uncertain, Hack Space said it is willing to enter a short-term agreement to get itself up and running.
Addressing town councillors at a meeting last week, Stuart Livings explained that Hack Space allowed like-minded people to share tools and experience of their hobbies in a more social environment.
When asked about the level of interest he said that 12 people were “actively bashing down the door to get in”, while the group’s website was attracting 500 hits a week, asking whether a building had been found.
He added that the group was trying to reach out to villages in the district, with interest coming from as far as Lambourn, and that Kennet School was also on the hitlist.
Town council leader Jason Collis (Con, Thatcham North) asked how the group would generate rent for the building.
Mr Livings said that members would pay a monthly fee of £25, but people using the workshop for commercial benefit would be expected to contribute more.
He said membership numbers could reach into the 70s because of Newbury being a technically-focused town, including employees from Vodafone and Newbury Electronics,
This, he said, would generate beween £10,000 and £12,000 a year.
Sheila Ellison (Con, Thatcham North) asked how frequently the town council should ask for rent.
“At the moment we have nowhere so we will take anything we can get,” Mr Livings replied.
“I think we could get up to 30 to 40 members before we started tripping over each other. We could probably last a year there.”
Questioning the motivation, John Cheliah (Con, Thatcham West) said: “It seems to me you are just trying to see where it goes. Do you have a business plan?”
Mr Livings said that the Greenham Common Trust had asked to see one and had been pleased with what the group had produced.
He added that the trust had granted it £8,000 for the first year of operation.
“With the grant from Greenham I’m willing to put time into making it work,” he said.
On agreeing to grant Hack Space use of the workshop Ellen Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) said: “I think the fact they have some funds already promised means we should be happy that we can receive our rent.”