A YOUTH cafe facing eviction from the city centre premises it has occupied for the past 20 years has been offered a new home as council chiefs confirmed they wanted the group to leave.
The Evening News revealed last week that the cafe 6VT, the Capital’s only dedicated city centre youth service, was under pressure to quit its base in Victoria Terrace, which is wanted by the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT) to form part of its Patrick Geddes Centre for Learning, based in historic Riddle’s Court, immediately above.
The SHBT wrote to the council threatening to pull the plug on the £6.5 million project unless 6VT was told to move, sparking accusations of bullying.
Councillors were today considering a report which warned that if 6VT remained, the lottery funding secured by SHBT would be lost and recommended council officials work with the youth cafe to see its relocation by the end of the year “ideally by mutual agreement”.
The report added: “If this cannot be achieved then the council will need to decide whether to terminate 6VT’s lease at the next opportunity.”
It identified the former Lismore Rugby Club and Number Shop in the Pleasance as a possible new home for the cafe and proposed that £44,000 a year management fee paid to SHBT for Riddle’s Court could be redirected to help fund the estimated £300,000 of work needed to bring the property up to standard.
Dot Horne, founder and director of 6VT, said they had always made it clear they were prepared to look at better premises if they were available, but they needed more clarity from the council.
She said: “From our point of view, it is all incredibly vague. We need certainty.
“Lismore is a wee bit further out and more of a residential area whereas we have always prided ourselves on being in the city centre.
“The saving grace might be that it is well served by buses.”
“Our preference would be they find a solution here in Victoria Terrace for us, but if we were given some guarantees and security we would work with it.”
The council has told 6VT that shop premises in Cockburn Street are available.
Ms Horne said: “That would be much more central. We are going to go and have a look to see if it would be suitable.”
She said 6VT, which works with people from widely different backgrounds, including some of the city’s most at-risk young people, had always been a flagship project for Edinburgh and attracted visitors from all over the world.
Conservative education spokesman Jason Rust said: “This scrambling around to find premises at the last minute is really disappointing. Regrettably, this situation has been on the cards for some time and yet the council has not properly thought it through and have ended up creating needless uncertainty. There has been plenty of opportunity for the council to engage and provide a solution.”
SHBT declined to comment ahead of today’s meeting.