Friday, 30 November 2012

The West Park Centre, what again!

Letter to West Park Centre, as published in YEP Thursday 29 November 2012

gyms and playground-carpark
Well [re YEP 15 and 16 Nov], replacing the West Park Centre’s ancient electrics may cost up to £600,000. This is over twice the estimate that I heard two weeks ago. Either way, it’s a frightening large sum. But rather less than knocking down a capacious iconic building with a education covenant on it. And human terms, rather less than seeing how many minority social and ethnic groups you could alienate at any one time.  When Asset Management asked Cllr Lewis to sign West Park off, in one go they made homeless the Leeds National Union of Teachers, the Irish Arts Group, the Travellers Education team, and two charities for Arts and Music for adults and children with Additional/Special Needs YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic and Music Ark. Also permanently placed here drama group, Blah Blah Blah, and video makers: Nexomedia plus, of course, the main building user, Leeds ArtForms [Music and Arts Service]. And not forgetting the kiosk run by Carole.
dismantling the sound and light room

On a regular basis, nearly all the City of Leeds Youth Music groups rehearsed and gave concerts here; a local church booked WP every Sunday for eternity, Opera North and local professional and amateur orchestras parked for nothing in their hundreds and skipped into the hall, dragging their cellos behind them. Before the Ballet discovered the true meaning of city centre parking costs they tutu-ed around the old school gyms, and only this month the City Varieties gang was set to follow their footsteps.

the Ladies
At West Park you could weight-watch, give up cigs or gambling, train school staff to safe-guard, well you could hire a room from this council-run property and know that any profits [did I say profits?] weren’t filling the pockets of any private business-person.

the Disabled toilet
The electrics at West Park have been questionable for years. Despite this we were allowed to build and run a recording studio at one end of the building and a sound and light room for people with Additional/Special Needs. There was a disabled lift and ramp, two disabled toilets complete with hoists. Did I mention the storerooms? A storeroom in a 50s building would house two headteachers in a PFI build.

Thank goodness they saw the Russians coming and let them and their children who had travelled from all over the UK and from Eastern Europe have their afternoon at West Park, which hadn’t been broken on Friday and wasn’t any more broken on Saturday.

Yours sceptically, Victoria Jaquiss FRSA [ex-West park centre user] 
[Words not published in YEP in unbolded italics][don't usually feature pics of toilets in blogs, but you need how well-appointed it all was]

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