£250,000 cost-cutting drive puts 10 Leeds community centres at risk of closure

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Ten Leeds community centres are at risk of closure as Leeds City Council bids to save £250,000 by 2017.

A report proposing a three-month public consultation starts over the future of centres in need of “short term action” across the city will go before the authority’s executive board on Wednesday.

Community groups and councillors have voiced concerns over the cost-cutting drive, which will see facilities either become community-run, utilised for new incomes or closed.

The report to executive board suggests many of the 10 community centres are expensive to run or of poor quality, while some have thousands of pounds of backlog maintenance bills.

Coun Karen Bruce (Lab, Rothwell) is petitioning to save the at-risk Windmill Youth Centre, in Rothwell, which she claims is attended by up to 60 youths every night.

She said: “I think it’s crazy, it shouldn’t be considered for anything like this. It’s utilised and is such a positive experience for the young people.

“It would be devastating to have it taken away from them so I will be fighting tooth and nail to keep it open.”

The centres under threat are St Gabriel’s Community Centre, in East Ardsley; Bramley Community Centre; Old Cockburn Sports Hall, in Hunslet; Kippax Youth Centre; Gildersome Youth Club; Lewisham Park Centre, in Morley; Weston Lane Community Centre, in Otley; Windmill Youth Centre; Fieldhead Youth and Adult Centre, in Whinmoor, and Meanwood Community Centre. The council does not own either the Windmill Youth Centre or St Gabriel’s Community Centre so will discuss plans with the owners of the buildings.

Lee Ingham, manager of Bramley Elderly Action, helps to run activities for elderly groups at Bramley Community Centre, which the council claims has backlog maintenance bills of £60,000. He said: “It’s a community centre in the true sense, in that it’s right in the middle of Bramley, next to the crossroads. This is our organisation’s 20th year and we have been using the building since the outset. We currently have four or five weekly activities taking place in the centre plus there is a lunch club we run there twice a week – it cannot close.”

A report to the council states: “The community centre portfolio contributes to Leeds City Council’s priorities for the development of local communities, creating a space for community activity, meeting the needs of citizens older and young; and bringing different communities together. However, there is a need to avoid duplication, make better use of buildings retained and to control costs.”

The report said its proposals will “provide a significant reduction in costs, marginal impact on users and income, and remove the difficulty of ongoing backlog maintenance costs.”

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