Up to 40 staff members at risk as ‘devastated’ Letchworth Heritage Foundation cuts services

Foundation CEO Graham Fisher informed employees of the news earlier this week. Picture: LHF

Foundation CEO Graham Fisher informed employees of the news earlier this week. Picture: LHF - Credit: Archant

The Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation has sadly announced several redundancies and service cuts in an attempt to plug a £2.6 million financial black hole brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

CEO Graham Fisher relayed the news to staff earlier this week, and said the decision was made “even more painful after having such a strong year in 2019”.

The worst affected will be the foundation’s health and wellbeing services which will be significantly scaled back, and in some cases permanently closed.

Active Letchworth – a partnership of sports clubs and health and community groups – will no longer be operated by the foundation, however early talks are in place for this to be taken over as a community-led enterprise.

Meanwhile, Ernest Gardiner Treatment Centre will be closing for the foreseeable future, and it is unlikely it will return in its current format.

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The foundation says it remains “committed” to supporting the health and wellbeing of the community, and is working with health partners to discuss viable alternatives.

The popular community transport programme will also be paused indefinitely while searches for new operating models take place, though it is expected this process “may take some time”.

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Heritage Foundation CEO Graham Fisher said: “Sadly, given the extent of our financial losses, we have had to make some very difficult decisions. The stark reality is that we can no longer afford many of the services that were delivered before.

“Being forced to make these decisions now is even more painful after having such a strong year in 2019. The work our teams delivered was having real impact in Letchworth.”

Graham added: “The focus of the coming weeks will be to support our colleagues who will lose their jobs. It is devastating that they are being impacted by something so completely out of our control – and for that reason we will provide all the help and guidance that we can in this transition period.”

The Broadway Cinema & Theatre, and the Broadway Studio & Gallery will also be scaling back their operations – though the foundation hopes both venues will reopen once they become COVID secure. Standalone Farm will reopen as soon as safeguarding measures can be met.

“Based on these changes, the foundation will operate in a completely different way,” Graham said. “What will categorically remain is our commitment to being at the centre of the Letchworth community – working with residents and businesses to make Letchworth thrive in the years ahead.

“It is my pledge that our charitable objects – the very core of what we do to enrich the lives of those who live and work in Letchworth – will also remain in place.

“Even with the continuing shadow of COVID-19 and the dreadful impact it has had on our town, we will come through this as an organisation with a vision and ambition, unity and strength of purpose which has always marked out Letchworth Garden City and its people.”

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