Last ditch plea to save youth centre

Last ditch plea to save youth centre

By Andrew Mosley | 21/08/2020

Last ditch plea to save youth centre


A PARISH council aiming to save Kiveton Park’s youth centre has made an 11th-hour appeal to take over the building.

Rotherham Council cut provision as part of a £500,000 savings package last year and plans to offload the former school site on the open market.

But Wales Parish Council and a working group aiming to save the Station Road centre have made a last ditch move.

Their open letter to RMBC leader Cllr Chris Read said: “We ask you please to intervene, and play a hand for us here, by preventing Kiveton Park Youth and Community Centre from going on the open market, and allow the working group to have the building for a peppercorn rent, thereby allowing us to transform the working group into a trust to be able to bring in the significant investment that this much cherished building requires.”

The parish council had the building designated an asset of community value — buying more time beyond the initial February closure date.

A delegation from the community met RMBC in early March and was told renovation to make the building safe would be expensive.

They had four months to come up with a business plan and more than £500,000.

The open letter, signed by parish councillor Paul Martin and working group chairman Christopher Unwin, said: “This was already an enormous task, then the whole world went in to lockdown making it impossible for us to meet with local partners and businesses to make a pitch for financial support.

“We simply don’t have enough time, partly because of the Covid-19 crisis, but also the subsequent dire financial environment that the crisis has left every one of us with.

“For us to find anywhere near the amount of money required to rescue this incredibly precious community asset, in time to save it, is simply not possible.”

The parish council won a further extension of the deadline from mid-July to the end of this month — but RMBC says it will not budge further.

The borough council’s plan is to shift youth provision to the village library — but there are concerns this will not prove a suitable venue.

Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford said: “While the library is an immensely important part of the community, it is not a substitute for a multi-purpose community hall.

“I am imploring the council to give Kiveton Park youth centre a chance to survive.

“The closure of the centre would prove to be an incalculable loss for Kiveton Park.

“The coronavirus pandemic should have taught us that community centres are more valuable now than they have ever been.”

Cllr Read said: “I have now received the representations from the parish council about the former youth service building and will be considering these along with our asset management colleagues in order to respond as soon as possible.
“I appreciate that there is an understandable strength of feeling locally about trying to retain the building.

“But we must also consider this alongside the current ongoing costs to taxpayers of holding on to the building in its state of disrepair, and how long it may take to raise the necessary funds to make improvements, either for the local group or indeed for any other use.”

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