I was pleased to chair a packed meeting on the future of Inch House, with the Inch Community Association and the Management Committee.
The meeting involved local Councillors Norman Austin-Hart, Keith Robson, and Nick Cook and Inch House Management Committee members Mark Mulgrew and Margaret Collingwood. There were initially plans for Council officers to attend which would have been beneficial in clarifying certain points, however the Council felt they should not attend an event with politicians this close to an election.
Despite this I felt the meeting was very constructive. The letter from Peter Watton, Head of Property and Facilities Management, states that the Council have at no point contemplated closing the property and selling it on the open market.
This is a welcome change in tone and goes to show just how effective our local community campaign has been. What is important now is that the Council rigorously examine all the options open to them which includes a community asset transfer, or a 99 year lease which would allow the Management Committee to access lottery funding.
It was also very useful to have 3 local councillors who all sit on the Education Children & Families Committee and receive their assurances that they will impress on the officers the strength of local feeling for the centre, and the need for it to remain in community use.
It is now vitally important that local people get in touch with the Council directly, or through their Councillors and communicate what they want to happen next.
Meanwhile the campaign, which has been so successful so far, will continue to pressure the Council into exhausting all available options to secure the investment Inch House needs.
List of questions which will be raised by Norma, Keith, and Nick with Council officials (As recorded by Cllr Keith Robson):
1. What are the four options? (referred to by Margaret Collingwood)
2. What is the legal position of the building? Was it given to the Council and on what terms?
3. Where would the money go if the centre is closed?
4. Why have none of the works been carried out?
5. (statement) Onus on Council to maintain the building. [Can we list what investment has been made into building over recent times]
6. If do away with the centre what will replace it? Where would a replacement [building] be?
7. Does Council have legal requirements even if gifted?
8. Why has it taken so long to deal with the issues?
9. Why didn’t the Council take action when the roof was dangerous? [Safety issues over roof at back of building raised]
10. (statement) Use the Community Empowerment Act to move forward
11. What guarantees are there that it won’t be sold?
12. What is Margaret Collingwood’s favoured option? – Community Centre continues and is run by Council. Council can ask Historic Environment Scotland if it will contribute to costs
13. (statement) Make a stand and tell them they are not getting to do it [sell the building to private developer]
14. (statement) Derek Howie “here on behalf of SNP – commitment to keep it open”
15. What happens to young people if the centre closes?
16. Will repair costs not keep going up?
17. (statement) Part of community. Kids and mothers will have nothing.
18. (statement) Crime rates will rise if nothing for younger people to do
19. In respect of asset transfer will the receiving organisation have a legal requirement to repair the roof or the whole building?
20. What would happen to the community centre if Inch House is transferred to another organisation?
21. Do you think Princes Trust would be a good organisation?
22. Why don’t you print a leaflet outlining what’s going on, include the options and the management committee’s preferences?
Save Inch House Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Save-Our-Inch-Community-Centre-1327010557315860/