The imminent closure of the laundry in Seahouses has sparked a series of concerns as well as an effort to keep the service going.
At Monday night’s well-attended meeting of North Sunderland Parish Council, members heard that The Washing Line, which was set up under one of Seahouses Development Trust’s trading arms, is to close on January 31.
The social enterprise, which is used by tourism businesses as well as residents, had continued to operate in the resource centre after the building was sold to the county council, but the local authority has now put it up for sale.
At its last meeting, the development trust agreed to close the business, ‘because it wasn’t viable’, according to what Coun Sylvia Hillan, the parish council’s representative on the trust, was told.
This was disputed by Cleo, who runs the business and said that it has made £50,000 of profit since 2012.
However, Coun Hillan said that she understood that the profits were being used to pay off a loan, although it was not clear what this was for, while Coun David Donaldson pointed out that this figure would be significantly reduced if the business had been paying rent and rates, which it has not done up to now.
On top of this, the meeting heard that a new business, Seahouses Luxury Linen Hire Limited, with Seahouses Hub as its base, had been incorporated on December 15.
Information on Companies House shows that the business has three directors – Colin Brunt, David Paul and Agnes Wardropper, all of whom are listed as directors of the development trust, which also has Seahouses Hub as its registered office.
Later in the meeting, Jonathan Keenan, from Northumbria Coast & Country Cottages, said that they would like to take over The Washing Line from January 31 and run it until the building is sold.
He added that ‘it was no secret’ the letting firm is looking at buying the resource centre anyway and with the intention of continuing to run an expanded laundry service.
Parish councillors did not wish to commit to anything and Coun Hillan said she would raise the concerns at the trust’s meeting later this month and report back to the council in February.