Residents fear for future of community centre as bosses quit

The community centre is home to a number of events similar to this one at a community centre in Cumbernaul. Stock image
The community centre is home to a number of events similar to this one at a community centre in Cumbernaul. Stock image
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Fears over a loss of services at a community centre have been raised after the management committee announced they were giving up their lease.

Nelson Community Centre, which is one of four in the city gifted in perpetuity to the people of Edinburgh by Nelson’s printmakers, was leased to nearby Southside Community Centre’s management committee by the city council.

Residents have expressed concern that their classes and other events could be in danger. Picture; stock image

Residents have expressed concern that their classes and other events could be in danger. Picture; stock image

But a notice was posted on the centre’s wall detailing the committee’s intention not to renew the lease with the city council, which expires in just a few weeks.

David Hickey, who holds regular martial arts Genbukan IAIDO classes at the centre, said: “We were given effectively an eviction notice saying we were going to be kicked out.

“Given the specialist nature of our martial art, that wasn’t a lot of time or notice. It has since been extended out to the end of September but we are hoping there is going to be some sort of resolution.”

Mr Hickey, who is one of the key tenants of the centre, using two out of the four evening slots, claimed groups had not been spoken to before or since the message appeared on the noticeboard.

He said: “No-one has spoken to us before the fact or after the fact – no discussion about economics, such as maybe changing the pricing structure if it was the revenues that were an issue.

“These are talks that we would be very comfortable in entering into but literally no-one has spoken to any of the staff or groups.”

The management committee said council cutbacks on staff had made it nearly impossible to run both centres and they were focusing their limited resources by concentrating on Southside Community Centre.

Mr Hickey said: “It is still staffed by council employees so it has been the external management decision not to renew the lease.

“Surely to lay the blame on the feet of the council I think is quite unfair.

“We’re super proud of the work we’re doing and it would be a shame if that was derailed with what reads to be Southside management spitting out their dummies.”

A committee meeting was held on Saturday to update members of the community on the available options.

Southside/Newington SNP councillor Alison Dickie said: “It was a really good discussion between all the user groups and further discussions will be held to decide what’s going to happen.

“The lease has been extended for three months which gives some breathing space to users to carve out and shape a new plan.”

“This centre is at the heart of the community and I am happy to support the community to reach the best solution.”

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk