Comment: Closure is not the only option

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ON the face of it, there can be only one decision.

The city council seems to have little option but to sell off the Inch Community Centre, avoid a massive repair bill and use the saving to help balance the books.

At a time when cuts are being made to services across the board it would be a completely understandable move.

But it would be wrong to rush into a decision like this and deprive a community of a much-used facility.

It is easier to close a building than it is to re-open and so all those who use the Inch centre – which stands at around 20,000 people a year – deserve to be consulted on its future.

The local authority must work with community leaders to make sure that all options have been explored to keep the building operational, and if not, that appropriate alternative facilities can be provided.

As local MP Ian Murray points out, the Inch Community Centre has been at the heart of the community for generations and its loss will be felt keenly.

This is not an under-used, expensive white elephant, it is a vital service which must be maintained or replaced.

We sympathise with the position which the city council finds itself in but would warn that it ignores the wishes of the local community at its peril.

Community leaders clearly think the repairs to the centre can be carried out far cheaper than official estimates. This may be the case but it may also be true that they have under-estimated the scale of the work required for a historic old building to comply with modern standards.

It is for the community to start shouting and fighting to save their centre. That could involve a trust taking over, perhaps lottery-funding to meet the repair costs. What is clear is that closure is not the only option.