Community comes together in Peterborough village to oppose library and community centre sale
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A public meeting was held Dale McKean and Lilian Muxlow after it was revealed the Eye Library and community centre building was under threat after being named on a list of sites the council is considering selling in a bid to save cash.
The building opened 61 years ago and currently hosts the Junior Youth Club, Brownies, Rainbows and Girl Guides and will be needed for the restart of the Senior Youth Club by 2025.
Manor Farm Community Centre in the village has been suggested as an alternative venue but residents have raised concerns about its availability, lack of a secure play area and storage and the inadequacy of the wooden floor.
Representatives from all political parties in the city were present at the meeting, including Peterborough MP Paul Bristow, Labour parliamentary candidate Andrew Pakes, Deputy Council Leader John Howard, Labour Leader Dennis Jones, Lib Dem Leader Christian Hogg, Peterborough First Councillor John Fox and Conservative Councillor for the Eye, Thorney and Newborough ward Steve Allen.
Lead Petitioner Dale McKean: “Five years ago, the council pulled out of senior youth club, the junior youth club is for 9-12 year olds. The Rainbows, Guides, Brownies and Rangers all use this facility, which means that for a number of nights a week, it is full. Manor Farm has one night available, it does not have the ability to take all of the pool tables, table tennis tables and everything the youth have got. I do not know how it has been thought that they can move to Manor Farm. We have also got a secure playground out the back, you only have to come down on a Friday night and see how many children are using that. There is no such facility at Manor Farm, it’s grass out the back and it’s not secure.
“The Eyebury Road complex will bring another five estates and the population up over 6000 residents and all those people will come with young families and need junior youth club, Rainbows, Guides and Brownies. All of that growth is coming in and the council is thinking about selling off a key part of the community supporting all the new residents. Major growth in not just the houses, it is the services too.”
Villager David: “It’s the people that make what the community what it is. If that goes, it’ll cost the council more money on the long run because you’re talking vandalism, arrests and fires. If this building does things are going to be changing for the worst, support is needed at a young age. Speaking as somebody was was expelled from school, I don’t think I’d be here doing what I’m doing and having the career I’ve got without the support of the youth club and the community.”
Villager A: “A lot of people feel this village has been neglected and been betrayed at a local and national level. We’ve had post offices closed, bus services reduced and a school this is oversubscribed and families with kids in this village that can’t get into the school and then now we’ve another 250+ houses that are going to be built off Eyebury Road. which is going to increase the population further. We’ve got an infrastructure that does not need the demands placed upon it.
Villager B: “My girl is six years old, she wasn’t able to get into the school and this place is the only safe haven she’d had in this village. There’s a lot of children in this village that can’t get into the school and the only place they have to meet new children is this place. My daughter has no friends in this village apart from the few girls she meets on a Tuesday night here. I’m a busy single parent now due to the loss of my husband and this is the only support she gets from other adults and other children. If this goes, I can’t speak for the impact this will have on the mental health of her and all of these young children.
Villager C: “If you get rid of this place, where are the children supposed to do? If you take the girl guides and all the programmes away that is not fair, it’s out of order. My daughter goes to the girl guides, the children feel safe here, it’s a safe haven for them because it’s locked up and safe, Manor Farm is not safe.”
Peterborough MP Paul Bristow: “This is a village campaign and we should be very proud of what Dale and Lillian are doing. It’s a real achievement to have so may signatures and for the village to come together in this way.
“Make no mistake, this is an existential threat to this building. It is a review and no decision has been made but Eye is a growing village, if we strip assets like the away from the village then what will we be left with?
"A village is not just a place where people live but a community with assets and places where people can gather. We don’t just want houses, we want facilities too. Already the village it struggling at the seams with infrastructure, to rip this place out would be terrible.
"This building can not be sold, the youth club can not end and the library can not close.”
Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Corporate Governance and Finance John Howard: “This is a review, no decisions have been made. Part of the review is about the community involvement in these buildings and I can see from this morning, there is a lot of passion and interest is this building and that’s really good to see.
“The property and communities team will be visiting each group who uses a space and then it will be looked at again in early January. Every decision that is made will go through the council scrutiny process and cabinet. We will not have any further news until next year.”
Labour parliamentary candidate Andrew Pakes: “The sad reality is that this community centre never should have been on the chopping block in the first place.
"It is shocking to discover the council put Eye Library and the community centre on the sale list in July and then for nearly three or four months kept it secret from the community. Now the secret is out, this is a campaign that is going to be won.
"There is no way on earth the council is going to go about shutting this down or harming the community here. What we really need is a quick decision and it’s great to see that all of the major parties are 100% behind the community and that’s why it’s going to be a community win.”