On Wednesday 21st the “Safer Stronger Communities” select committee met. They were deciding on the recommendations to make to the mayor and cabinet regarding the community centres. The select committee was clearly not prepared for the public turn-out. A whole extra row of chairs had to be added to seat the public. Chairs even had to be found outside the room. Representatives of Honor Oak Community centre, Sedgehill community group, Evelyn community centre, Barnes Wallis community centre, Brandram Road community centre,Venner Road community centre and Woodpecker community centre spoke to the select committee about their concerns. The points they raised prompted concillors Luke Sober, Andre Bourne and James Walsh to add their concerns about the necessity of the closures. The weight of opinion in the room produced a defensive response from Joan Millbank, Cabinet Member for the Third Sector. She insisted that moving the centres into hubs was an example of “smart thinking”. This view was not shared by others in the room. Many felt that the plan to move existing community groups into larger centres had not been properly thought through. Representatives of the hubs have said they are not ready to take the new community centres. It seems difficult to imagine that the select committee can move ahead with the plan at this point. However, the recommendations the committee will be making to the cabinet will be published on November 1st.
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