Closure-threatened community centre set to be saved

The Drylaw Neighbourhood Centre is a popular local resource. Picture: Greg Macvean
The Drylaw Neighbourhood Centre is a popular local resource. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A COMMUNITY centre threatened with closure has been given new hope after council chiefs moved to restore half its funding.

Drylaw Neighbourhood Centre – which runs a wide range of projects for all age groups in the area – faced losing all its funding from the city council and being forced to shut its doors at the end of March, making five people redundant.

But after a change of heart, the health and social care department is recommending a £45,000 grant to the centre for next year should be reinstated.

The centre welcomed the U-turn but said it now needed a similar move from the council’s children and families department – which gave a grant of around £40,000 this year – if the centre’s future was to be secured.

Alex Dale, chairman of Drylaw Telford Community Association, said there was strong support from the community for the campaign to save the centre.

He said: “Our website has had about 700 hits for the campaign petition.

“This is a well-loved and well-used centre, run by the community for the community.

“We’re pleased health and social care have come to this decision. It is a good sign of hope. But it’s only 50 per cent of the battle to secure the future. We’re still waiting from children and families to come back and we’ve been told we won’t hear from them until next month.”

The centre – the only one in the area – runs a seven-day-a-week breakfast club for disadvantaged children, a job club for unemployed people and three groups for older people.

Mr Dale said: “We’re having a board meeting today to discuss where we are and we’re going produce a business plan to take the centre forward.”

He praised local councillors Lesley Hinds, Gavin Barrie and Nigel Bagshaw for their support in trying to restore the funding.

Councillor Hinds, who officially opened the centre more than 20 years ago, welcomed the health and social care move to restore funding and said she was lobbying for the children and families money to be reinstated as well. She said she was working with the centre to understand why it had scored poorly in the funding assessment.

She added: “I’ve also said that I will work with the centre to look at other sources of funding in addition to the council that can be applied for to help secure its excellent work for the future.”

Toni Giugliano, SNP candidate for Edinburgh Western, said: “Drylaw is absolutely furious about the way the centre is being treated. The community relies on services like the breakfast club, which is still under threat if budgets can’t be agreed.

“If these services are taken away, Drylaw, which still has pockets of deprivation, will be left with nothing. It’s just not good enough, and the community deserves answers as to why a well-used community centre was shortlisted for closure in the first place.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com