Pride will post a $130,000 loss for the financial year and is taking steps to vacate its current premises by the end of October.

A $40,000 loss on Pride’s last New Year’s Eve party and an annual rent bill of $120,000 are the most significant contributing factors to the financial year figure.

Pride co-president Lou-Anne Lind said the result was obviously a matter of concern but stressed that the organisation was not in any risk of insolvent trading. All bills were being paid on time, she said.

Lind and recently elected co-president James Nelson voiced their concern over the amount of money paid on rent.

I would much rather focus our attention on community services and development work but instead we fight an endless battle just to pay the rent, Lind said.

It’s an awful lot of rent, but it’s for a building in frankly very poor condition, Nelson said. Our goal is to be out of [26] Hutchinson Street by the end of October at the latest.

A consultation process undertaken in May showed that community members still valued a community centre, but felt its current locale was inappropriate, Lind said. Nelson revealed that the centre currently had a utilisation rate of only 10 percent.

Some of the community groups who utilise the centre were alarmed to receive a letter from Nelson several weeks ago warning them that there was a worst-case possibility that negotiations between Pride and the building’s landlord could result in a sudden changing of the locks.

We think it is unlikely that we will be locked out but it is best to be prepared -¦ Nelson wrote in the letter. We recommend that you, like us, back-up any critical computer files and remove any important records and/or assets from the building.

Luncheon Club and Larder convenor Carole Ann King told Sydney Star Observer that Nelson’s letter had necessitated a continual moving-in and moving-out of the organisation’s computer and files.

We need to make sure that we don’t miss a beat if something happens, King said. She said the Luncheon Club and Larder would be housed temporarily in the Positive Living Centre if the worst came to the worst.

But Lind played down the possibility of a lock-out.

I don’t think it’s going to happen; it’s worst-case scenario stuff, she said, but conceded that negotiations between Pride and the building landlord over the early termination of the lease had been hard and adversarial. She said Pride had received legal advice that recommended they make rent payments out of their bond, and not out of working capital.

The rent has been paid and will continue to be paid until the bond has expired, she said.

The Star understands that Pride’s early release from the lease may prove beneficial to the landlord as well as tenant, as the landlord currently has an application for the development of the site before South Sydney Council. If approved, the application would allow for the demolition of the current building and the construction of new retail/residential space.

Lind said Pride were also hoping to hear soon from South Sydney Council about the availability of other accommodation in the inner-city area. She said the Pride board did not want any of their user groups kicked out on the street, but that accommodating groups under the Pride Centre umbrella would be contingent on the size of any new space.

King disagreed. In their arrangements, they’re not taking the FitX Gym and they’re not taking the Luncheon Club, she said. We’re probably better standing on our own.

King and FitX Gym committee member James Rainier described the difficulties inherent in finding a new site for their operations. King stressed that the Luncheon Club’s use of the Positive Living Centre could only be on a short-term basis.

Rainier said the FitX gym was in an awkward position but the committee was determined to find a new space.

We’ve gone through tough times before. We’ll get through this, he said.

Other groups were more sanguine. Penny Gulliver, chief instructor with the Gay and Lesbian Martial Arts group (which meets at the Pride Centre three times a week), praised Pride’s handling of the current situation.

We will stick with Pride and support them 100 percent, she said. Wherever they go, we will go.

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