Replacing the West Park Centre’s electrics may cost up to £600,000 – a frighteningly large sum
But rather less than knocking down a capacious building with an education covenant on it. And in human terms, rather less than seeing how many minority social and ethnic groups you could alienate at any one time.
In signing off the centre, they made homeless the Leeds National Union of Teachers, the Irish Arts Group, the Travellers Education team, and two charities for Arts and Music for adults and children with Additional/Special Needs YAMSEN: SpeciallyMusic and Music Ark. Also permanently placed here are drama group, Blah Blah Blah, and video makers Nexomedia plus, of course, the main building user, Leeds ArtForms [Music and Arts Service]. And not forgetting the kiosk run by Carole.
Nearly all of Leeds’s youth music groups rehearsed and gave concerts here regularly; a local church booked West Park every Sunday for eternity, Opera North and local professional and amateur orchestras parked for nothing in their hundreds and skipped into the hall. Before the ballet discovered the true meaning of city centre parking costs they tutu-ed around the old school gyms, and only this month the City Varieties gang was set to follow their footsteps.
At West Park you could weight-watch, give up cigs or gambling, train school staff to safe-guard. You could hire a room from this council-run property and know any profits weren’t filling the pockets of any private business-person.
The electrics at West Park have been questionable for years. Despite this we were allowed to build and run a recording studio at one end and a sound and light room for people with additional/special needs. There was a disabled lift and ramp and two disabled toilets complete with hoists.
Thank goodness they saw the Russians coming and let them and their children who had travelled from all over the UK and from Eastern Europe have their afternoon at West Park, which hadn’t been broken on Friday and wasn’t any more broken on Saturday.
Victoria Jaquiss FRSA, ex-West Park Centre user