West Leeds: New survival fight for public facilities

UNDER THREAT: New Wortley community centre is fighting for survival.
UNDER THREAT: New Wortley community centre is fighting for survival.
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Two west Leeds community centres are fighting for their survival again despite winning praise for successful previous efforts to save them.

Now New Wortley and Fairfield community centres may see some of their services merged as part of a renewed action plan to ensure their futures.

It’s been a turbulent couple of years for both organisations, neither of which is directly run by Leeds City Council, but both of which get support from a specially set-up Community Centre Consortium of local organisations.

A report to the West (Inner) Area Committee said that Bramley-based Fairfield’s catering social enterprise had “suffered a recent fall in income” and a merger with New Wortley’s more successful Cafe 40 was now being considered, to “benefit from economies of scale”.

“Fairfield community centre is a local success story,” the report added. “A few years ago it was threatened with closure, suffering from anti social behaviour and low use.

“Thanks to the efforts of local residents, the board and [business manager] it now hosts a range of activities.

“The Fairfield partnership is confident that the centre will continue to improve and grow.”

Referring to New Wortley’s community centre, which has overcome similar issues and runs three social enterprises including a launderette, the report added: “Whilst the social enterprises at the centre are experiencing their best results, the financial situation remains fragile.

“The current long-term plans rest on a successful application to the Big Lottery Reaching Communities Buildings Fund.

“The extension will provide long term sustainability.”

Despite the concerns, the report said both centres had “greatly increased their income” with their social enterprise efforts and by “taking difficult decisions” including staffing.

Now council bosses are putting together a support group to help both centres to identify new sources of income. “This will be explored with the two centres over the coming months”, the report said.

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