Silver Rooms’ campaigners call on Norfolk County Council to relent on cash demands
Campaigners fighting to convert a Norwich day centre into a community centre are pleading with council bosses to relent on their demands for �80,000.
The Friends of the Silver Rooms will meet tonight to discuss the next step in a two-year campaign to keep the venue, in Silver Road, north Norwich, open.
Norfolk County Council has informed the group it can lease or buy the building at its market value of �80,000.
But Silver Rooms' supporters want the authority to consider alternatives, including giving them the premises for free or accepting small rental payments.
They say this will enable them to use the building to provide activities for people of all ages, including youth groups, establishing a credit union and film screenings.
Former Norwich North MP Ian Gibson, a member of the friends group, said: 'I've contacted the council and I would like to present a case to full council or cabinet that it be given to the community as a community centre because of the support.
'It would be very popular in the community and many groups of people would like to use it.'
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Mr Gibson said the centre could also save the council money in the long-term by the services it wanted to provide.
He said: 'It seems to me a council that really cares for the people should have also left open the door and find a way to let people use the building for the good of a community at a token rate or give it away for free.'
Julie Brociek-Coulton, a fellow friends group member and Labour Norwich City councillor, said: 'We made an expression of interest on October 14, the council got back on January 20 and they want us to make a decision by February 10. I think they should give us more time.
'We will have things for older people at the centre but it will not be a day centre. We had an open day at the end of October and we were very successful. We still have people asking when is the building going to be the community's so we can start doing it. There's a lot of potential, we just need the go-ahead – but the price has to be right.'
Norfolk County Council staff say the authority's policy on selling buildings is flexible, but councillors are the only people who can decide to change it. Officers added that they have no choice but to initially ask for the market value, although the decision is not final.
Are you trying to save a community service? Call reporter Richard Wheeler on 01603 772474, or email firstname.lastname@example.org