AN under-threat charity which provides training opportunities for young people with learning difficulties has been granted a temporary stay of execution.
The Engine Shed, which runs a cafe and bakery, is set to lose its vital £211,200 annual funding from the city council, in a move which has sparked outcry amongst parents and supporters.
But a meeting later this month where its fate was to be rubber-stamped has now been postponed until September.
Engine Shed chairwoman Marian MacDonald said she believed the decision was down to the strength of feeling that had been demonstrated over the issue.
A petition calling for it to be saved was set up by Learning Disability Alliance Scotland and has been signed by more than 8600 people.
Ms MacDonald said: “I thought that this might happen – it seems like the council want a bit more time to come up with a solution that could save the Engine Shed – I don’t think anyone wants it to close.
“I’d say the decision to postpone the meeting has also been as a result of the strength of people from parents, I’m sure it’s made an impression of councillors and MSPs.”
Launched in 1989 with a similar ethos to Rudolf Steiner schools – focusing on the unique abilities of each individual – the Engine Shed is part of Garvald Community social enterprise and runs a cafe and conference facilities, a bakery and outside catering.
The St Leonards project, which has been running for nearly 25 years, has helped hundreds of vulnerable young people over the years, giving them the skills and confidence to find mainstream employment.
It offers three years’ training to 30 vulnerable young adults at any one time. And economy spokesman for the Conservative group, Councillor Jason Rust, was critical of the council’s handling of the situation.
He said: “I’m pleased that the council has decided to defer presentation of their report.
“There has been a great deal of concern about the council’s inept handling of this matter and the greater the consultation the better.
“Hopefully a more considered report will come forward in September and some of the unnecessary alarm which has been caused can be alleviated.”
In May, Rebus author Ian Rankin, a long-time supporter of the cafe and bakery, added his voice to calls to save it.
Councillor Frank Ross, convener of the economy committee, said: “Supporting people into work is a key part of the council’s Strategy for Jobs. To ensure we continue to use the employability fund well, targeted at those with a disability, we have undertaken a detailed public consultation.
“More time is now needed to further consider the responses. The report will therefore go to the Economy Committee in September.”