Long quest for centre is nearly over

A THREE year quest by a neighbourhood to run its own community centre looks set to come to fruition this month.Residents in west Colchester have been trying since July 2001 to keep the Straight Road Centre open for the community.

A THREE year quest by a neighbourhood to run its own community centre looks set to come to fruition this month.

Residents in west Colchester have been trying since July 2001 to keep the Straight Road Centre open for the community.

The centre is currently owned by Essex County Council, which used to run it as a youth centre. Now it is used solely by the Centre Pre-School which was also threatened with closure in July 2001.

The county council decided to sell the building and after strong lobbying from residents agreed to sell it for community use at a discounted price of £190,000 with the condition the deal is complete by this July.


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A group of local residents formed a company, the Straight Road Community Centre Ltd (SRCC), to take forward the project. It is now a registered charity and has been fundraising to buy the building with a plan to launch it as a multi-use community centre.

The group has already secured £90,000 towards the purchase from the Learning and Skills Council, Essex (LSC) via its new Neighbourhood Fund.

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Now it looks likely that Colchester Borough Council will donate the remaining £100,000, with a final decision on the grant to be made at next Wednesday's cabinet meeting.

Robert Davidson, cabinet member for Housing and Community Safety, said: "This is a much deserving project which Colchester Borough Council fully supports.

"Not only will it preserve an existing and much needed pre-school facility but it will also provide the opportunity for more community activity in the area.

"Our strategic plan recognises the importance of keeping the borough an attractive and safe place with lots of things to do locally and a community-run centre of this sort will play a key part in helping us to achieve this goal."

Sue Hawes, SRCC chairperson, said: "Volunteers and local councillors have worked extremely hard to get us to this position, and the help and advice we have received from officers at Colchester Borough Council has been invaluable.

"We are absolutely delighted at the prospect of owning and managing the centre and look forward to providing a range of services for the benefit of local residents."

Mrs Hawes said the group is hoping to use the centre for adult education classes, mother and toddler groups, dance and fitness, art and craft workshops and an administration base for community groups.

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