Doug, Ken, Janet and I spoke from the point of view of the West Park Residents' Association. The points we raised:
1. formal objection to the manner of the closure - most users came into work/community activitiy on Monday morning [5 November], told to pack up and leave.
2. that centre-users had been warned about the electrics forever [Cllr Atha said that he had in writing an opinion that the electrician was sent to close the centre], and nobody believed that anyone else believed that suddenly we were all about to be electrocuted.
3. that the value of the centre was not properly appreciated, either the fabulous storage space, nor the great synergy of such diverse organisations as Musial Ark and Opera North rubbing shoulders together.
4. The effect on the users, not just on their ability to make a living [as jobs], or make a difference [the charities], but also on their mental health. Worst hit, by general agreement was Carole J, keeper of the Kiosk, who had over the years put her life into feeding the centre-users, and 90% of whose main income was from the council training courses. With the centre and her customers dispersed, there is no livelihood, and there is no income, and really no life.
5. We were very concerned that the building was "winter-proofed", especially since some of us have watched as Assett Management have stood by and let the weather finish off what Education Leeds started with the Royal Park building.
6. needed to remind the council that the West Park Centre refugees were either stuggling or failing to manage properly in their temporary homes, and in fact some of us haven't even got as far as having a temporary home.
7. there should have been contingency plans in place for this totally expected closure.
|Orchestras used to play at West Park|