Pledge over future of Norwich community centres

City councillors Lucy Galvin, Jo Storie and Mike Sands at the Belvedere community centre in Norwich.

City councillors Lucy Galvin, Jo Storie and Mike Sands at the Belvedere community centre in Norwich. They worked on a report which outlines how the council should be helping the centres to survive and thrive. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2013

Volunteers who run the city's community centres have been hailed by council leaders, who have pledged to work more closely with them to help the centres thrive.

A cross-party group of city councillors spent a year studying the city's community centres, including the 16 in the city which are owned by Norwich City Council.

Their findings - including that some of the centres are thriving but others face challenges to survive - were presented to the city council's cabinet this week.

Councillors acknowledged that they had not been able to support the centres financially as they would have liked and warned there was likely to be little money available in the future.

But they did agree to other recommendations which the cross-party group came up with, including to look at developing a forum of community centres - bringing those which run them together to swap ideas and to collectively apply for grants which centres might not otherwise be eligible for.

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Paul Kendrick, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and open spaces, said: 'I'd like to thank those many volunteers for their time and commitment to run our community centres.

'Due to financial restraints imposed on us by central government we have not been able to give as much resources as we would have liked to have done. 'Our resources have declined considerably in recent years and will continue to do so.'

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But he said the council did have a long-term commitment to community centres and would work with the volunteers to help where possible.

Lucy Galvin, Green city councillor for Wensum and a member of the working group which carried out the study of the centres, said: 'It's very important that there is action over this and this isn't just kicked into the long grass.

'Community centres are at real risk in the current financial climate and it is critical that the city council does take action.

'This needs to be about more than just words.'

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