Edinburgh council announces limited reopening of community centres will be phased in from next week
A number of community centres across Edinburgh will resume some of their normal activities next week for the first time since the first Covid lockdown in March last year.
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The city council announced there would be a phased reopening of centres, starting with Jack Kane, South Bridge, Royston Wardieburn, Ratho, Clovenstone, Pentland and Goodtrees, which will open in a limited way from Monday, July 12.
Up until now community centres have only been allowed to be used to support essential services such as food poverty programmes, support for vulnerable groups and regulated childcare.
Now they will be able to open for youth groups and other children’s and adult activities.
The activities being provided are in addition to the Get into Summer programme of events which aims to encourage children and their families to play, socialise and re-connect over the summer holidays.
The council said more community centres will have limited opening over the coming weeks as management committees liaise with the council over what services can be provided in line with the latest health advice.
The move comes after councillors voiced anger at last month’s full council meeting over the slow pace of progress on reopening centres.
Tory group leader Iain Whyte said: “It was clear all elected members wanted to see community centres back open again, but despite pressure from different sides it has taken a really long time to get this working. This administration often make grand statements but don’t push officers to deliver. We’re finally seeing some of that, but it’s a change they need to take to heart.
"It’s good news that the community centres are opening and particularly for youth work, where we have seen a real disconnect between council policy which wants to help young people through the pandemic but actually very little going on and we saw a rise in anti-social behaviour, which while not directly related is often kept low when you’ve got good youth work going on.”
Green councillor Mary Campbell said: “For many people the centres make a major impact on wellbeing, reducing isolation and opening up activities. For young people, in particular, the reduction in community centre programmes on top of a very turbulent year in schools has been a huge loss.
“So I very much hope that the phased re-opening of community centres, in line with public health needs, continues and accelerates.”
Culture and communities convener Donald Wilson said: "It’s absolutely vital for our citizens that our community centres are able to welcome them back as soon as possible so it’s welcome that we’ve been able to accelerate their opening. They’re a focal hub for our communities and you can’t underestimate the positive effect they have on people of all ages who benefit enormously from using them."
And vice-convener Amy McNeese-Mechan added: "I’m sure people will be pleased to hear that essential services such as youth work along with other activities will soon be resuming in our community centres. These buildings are much-loved local spaces, like our libraries and sports venues, and the important role they will play in the city’s recovery from the pandemic is immeasurable.