Leeds: Failure of West Park Centre budget bid leaves groups in ‘limbo’

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Arts groups and councillors have expressed their dismay at the rejection of plans to bring a centre, which was closed suddenly, back into use.

The West Park Centre, which is located on a former school site in Spen Lane, west Leeds, was shut in November due to hazardous electrics but, the following day, a party attended by the Lord Mayor of Leeds was held at the site.

At last week’s full meeting of Leeds City Council, Liberal Democrat councillors tried to include a £1.15m fund to carry out immediate repairs to the centre but they were voted against by the majority.

Repairs to the centre, which was home to several charities, have been quoted at £931,000.

Coun Judith Chapman (Lib Dem, Weetwood) said: “It is unfair that community groups are being left in limbo like this.

“The West Park Centre is an important facility for local people and we will keep on pushing for a firm response as to what the future holds for the building.”

She said it will be nearly two months until the next report on the centre’s future is presented to the council’s executive board.

The Lib Dem Group proposed the repairs, which would fix more than half of the centre, should be funded by borrowing in a bid to get it running again.

Julia De Los Rios, co-ordinator at Musical Arc, an arts charity based at the centre until November, said: “It’s very disappointing but it’s probably not surprising.

“We felt we were part of the very special city of Leeds arts network and all of that’s gone.”

At last week’s meeting Coun Keith Wakefield, leader of the council, labelled all proposals for budget changes as “dodgy, dubious and dangerous”, stating that the council had made £55m of cuts and needs to make another £51m of savings next year.

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