A COMMUNITY centre has spoken out after it feels it's been 'unfairly charged' for drainage costs relating to its 3G pitches.

The Harraby Community Campus opened its doors in 2015. Since then, members have been trying to establish the correct water charging regime for the campus. It even went to the ombudsman to end its surface water charges, arguing it had a surface water drainage system.

But now the campus, which comprises a traditional centre and the sports facility and is leased from the council under a 99-year lease, is being hit with highways drainage costs for some parts of the site, it said.

According to United Utilities, the Harraby Community Campus contains five areas that are classed for billing purposes as separate properties. The centre's 3G pitch attracts charges for highways drainage that grassed areas would not.

Sean Reed, a spokesman on behalf of the Harraby Community Campus said: "They have decided in their wisdom that the sports centre is a private leisure centre and not part of the community centre and so will be charging at band 8 rather than band 1.

"They have agreed that Harraby community centre is indeed a community centre and given dispensation to band 1.

"In response to this we tried to get them to acknowledge that the 3G pitches drain into our sustainable surface water system as if it were grass, but they will not accept this and will continue to charge as if it were tarmac."

Sean says the community centre will now be charged £7,500 per annum for highway drainage, rather than £145.

He said: "The community centre is a charity and helps the community which suffers from deprivation and United Utilities are taxing the centre unfairly.

"We have been absolutely hit by the increase costs of electricity, water and gas anyway, so this just adds salt further into the wound."

United Utilities doesn't bill Harraby Community Campus directly - rather it is done via a third-party retailer, who it charges wholesale rates for wastewater services.

A United Utilities spokesperson, said: “We have worked closely with Harraby Community Campus to try and resolve their concerns.  This has included visiting the site and updating our records to accurately reflect the different drainage areas for each property on the site. 

“Through this, we have been able to reduce some of the charges that were previously billed to the retailer for their account and we have also offered the customer advice as to how they could qualify for further reductions through our concessionary charges scheme.”