A LABOUR councillor has admitted it “looks terrible” that a £440,000 “incentive” can be handed to the new Southend Boom Battle Bar while the threatened Ironworks community hub gets no cash.

The Ironworks, a highly-valued community space in Southend High Street, is facing closure after failing to attract new funding to stay open. 

On Friday, bosses at the Ironworks revealed they need just £16,000 to stay open but Derek Jarvis, councillor responsible for arts and culture, told the Echo the council “had no money to offer” because of its budget deficit. 

Now, Southend Labour councillor Matt Dent has reacted with fury after Boom Battle Bar was apparently given £440,000 to help it open at the Victoria Shopping Centre, but there is no support available for the Ironworks as a community facility.

At Southend’s full council last week, Labour councillor Aston Line also asked Mr Jarvis what could be done to help support the Ironworks.  

Mr Jarvis initially stated in the council meeting that “if the Ironworks had charged everyone £1.50 to enter” and had been “run as a business” it would have the funding to remain open.

However, on Friday he backtracked on  comments and said “he wasn’t fully aware of the situation”. 

Mr Dent said: “I want the council to look at this money, why it went to Boom and not the Ironworks raises questions and I believe it came across quite rude to criticise the management of the ironworks at Thursday’s council meeting, I would quite like them to take another look at this and in a year it has achieved a fantastic amount, it would be a loss for it to shut now.

“I think the way it looks, why has £440,000 been given to Boom in one instance, the optics of it are terrible and people are asking the question of why the council can intervene in one instance and help in another, I do think the council should take another look at this.”

At Thursday night’s meeting, Mr Jarvis said he was unable to commit to any future funding for the Ironworks.

Speaking to the Echo on Friday, he added that “he would if he could” but no funding is available due to the council’s £10.7million financial black hole. 

Ami Solomons, Ironworks co-founder said: “£16,000 will bridge the gap and our rent, we are looking at people taking a floor above in April and we watched the rest of the meeting during the evening and the ironworks was mentioned, we have achieved conversation and interest. It’s a good step for when they are talking budget, but nothing has changed, we haven’t secured funding.”