THE long-term future of an Abergavenny community group has been secured after they were given a 25-year lease on its building.

Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet unanimously approved to grant the lease to the Abergavenny Community Trust (ACT) on Wednesday.

The group started the Abergavenny Community Centre at the former Park Street School in 2015 after the council opted not to sell the vacant building for £300,000.

The council’s leader, Conservative councillor Peter Fox, praised the work of ACT’s founder Marion Pearse and fellow volunteers.

“Marion convinced me back in 2008 to take Park Street off the market and I know I wasn’t popular amongst some quarters of the council at the time to take it off the market,” he said.

“At times we’ve doubted that it may have advanced as it has, I give absolute credit to Marion and colleagues there for shaping [the centre] and delivering a real community asset.

“Many of us have been around there and seen first-hand what’s going on there and the diversity of things in play there.”

When ACT took over the building they were asked by the council to raise £230,000 of funding within the original three-year lease to automatically trigger a 25-year extension.

But Cllr Fox spoke of his pleasure of forgoing the original terms to allow the group to “secure and sustain the community facility for many years to come”.

The community centre doubles as a community kitchen, with weekly English language workshops for Syrian refugees and partnership days with the local foodbank.

More than 31 clubs in Abergavenny have also made the venue – which has five part-time employees and 30 volunteers – their home.

Conservative councillor Sara Jones, cabinet member for social justice and community development, said: “We are always doing a huge amount of work with the centre.

“The enthusiasm and energy they have there is totally in line with our social justice principles and community development partnership team.”