On Wednesday, Leeds City Council’s Executive Board will consider a recommendation that the West Park Centre is demolished.
In November 2012, this extremely popular and well-used building was unilaterally closed by the council’s Asset Management team – without warning, and without consultation.
There was no suggestion that it was surplus to requirements – even their scandalously one-sided ‘options appraisal’ (a disingenuous, misleading piece of work that does those who concocted it no credit whatsoever) acknowledges this.
Whilst there are no serious plans to replace West Park, it should be treated as a going concern.
Meanwhile, the closure continues to cause disruption and devastation to some of the most vulnerable people in the city.
It has been suggested that the building’s many users could simply be rehoused elsewhere.
If this is the case – show me the building that would provide perfect rehearsal, performance, office and storage space for the schools’ music service (a service, incidentally, that is one of the jewels in Leeds’s crown, judged outstanding by the Federation of Music Services – how much of that could be attributed to the excellent facilities it has long enjoyed at West Park?).
A building that can accommodate, at a peppercorn rent, organisations like Irish Arts, Blah Blah Blah, Paperbirds, Leeds Youth Opera – all of which contribute immeasurably to the cultural life of the city; and charities like YAMSEN and Musical Arc that provide a unique service to vulnerable children and adults.
A building with two huge gymnasia available to a huge range of sports and fitness groups, as well as being the home of the schools’ PE and Sports team.
We have that building – it’s called West Park.
The council should take note of the overwhelming tide of opinion, and make the right decision – to reopen West Park as soon as possible.
M Warwick, LS16