Norwich City Council to review city’s community centres

A rallying cry for the people of Norwich to show how vital their community centres are has been made after a review was announced by the city council.

Green Party councillors have raised fears for the future of the 16 centres, but last night council bosses insisted that there were no immediate plans to close any of the bases. Norwich City Council first decided to conduct a review of the city's community centres, which are owned by the council and run by local groups, at a previous meeting of its scrutiny committee meeting. At a full meeting of the city council last night, Green Party councillor Lucy Galvin questioned the public's involvement in the process.

Ms Galvin, city councillor for the Wensum ward, said: 'It's a good thing that this review is taking place, but what we want to make sure is that the people who use the centres are involved.

'I'm not scaremongering, but it is imperative that we give people a chance to come up with creative ideas and solutions.

'There are lots of exciting ventures that could be run from community centres. New government guidelines suggest community centres could be hubs for a range of community enterprises in the future, including community businesses such as co-operative purchasing, which could be a lifeline as the recession deepens.'

It is not clear what the intention of the review is, but at its next meeting, the city council's scrutiny committee will consider a proposal to establish a 'task and finish group' to look at the provision and use of community space in the city.

Community space is said to include community centres, church halls and other meeting rooms available for use by community groups and members of the public.

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Sharon Betts, from the Belvedere Community Centre, in Belvoir Street, near Dereham Road, said she was unaware that the review was taking place and Wensum Community Centre chairman Ben Hathway said they would welcome the chance to participate in such a study.

Julie Westmacott, the city council's cabinet member for environment and neighbourhoods, said: 'There are no proposals at this time to close any community centres.

'The review should include engagement with the operators and users of these facilities and this will be for the scrutiny members to decide.

'The outcome of the review will be reported to the cabinet and, in my view, it would be disingenuous to members of the scrutiny committee and very unfair to the users of and volunteers who run the council's community centres, for me or others to speculate on the outcome.'

What do you think of the city council's review of community centres? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk.

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