A VITAL community centre is to be demolished by council chiefs to the disgust of residents.
Calders Community Centre – based in one of the city’s poorest districts – will be turned to rubble because the council is not prepared to shoulder the “prohibitive” cost of reopening it.
The move has angered community leaders, who wanted to bring the centre into independent ownership.
Peter McDonald, chair of Calders Tenants and Residents Association, has attacked the “ridiculous” plans, after locals were last year given just a few months to file a business case that would have allowed residents to take over the derelict west Edinburgh facility.
Council bosses have instead offered space in a “community flat” at Dunsyre House.
But Mr McDonald said the flat was too small and would not replace the once vibrant centre, which hosted youth dances, ceilidhs and gatherings for the elderly before it closed.
He said: “They did not give us enough time to put a business plan together – there was just no way we could have put together a business plan in the time they gave us.
“What really made me angry was that the council have decided to knock it down in 2014-15. That’s ridiculous. If it was 2013-14, fair enough but they’re leaving it another year – we could have had more time to put a business plan together.
“We had people who were willing to make it work. We even had members of the army willing to come and help if we asked them.”
Mr McDonald said Calders residents were given just weeks last year to file a viable business case after expressing an ambition to bring the centre back into community ownership.
The drive fizzled out after residents failed to submit their case by the deadline – and council chiefs now say they want to knock the building down because of ongoing concerns over its safety and security.
But Mr McDonald said the episode marked a huge loss to the Calders community.
“What we used to have in the community centre was brilliant,” he said.
“I used it for about five years and then they just decided to close it. It was just left to go to rack and ruin. When it was open we used it for ceilidhs, youth discos, bingo nights, OAP meetings and coffee meetings. They could have done something about it, made it watertight or something like that – but they didn’t.”
He added: “They’ve changed the goal posts. Why didn’t they give us sufficient time to get a business plan in given it will be another year or year-and-a-half before it’s knocked down?”
Council chiefs said they had held lengthy discussions with residents about the centre’s future. A spokeswoman said: “Council staff have been in discussions with members for over a year. This ultimately culminated in the Calders Residents Association confirming with us they were no longer interested in submitting a business case to refurbish this building.”