They’re destroying heart of community
5:30am Friday 11th April 2014 in By Elizabeth Mackley
RESIDENTS wanting answers about the demolition of Eldene Centre packed out the East Locality meeting in the community centre.
Hundreds of people filled the main hall on Wednesday to find out more about the plans for the centre, but left frustrated, saying they had learned nothing new.
John Byrnes, 71, who has lived in Eldene for 40 years, said: “The residents asked for this meeting to be called to talk about the plans for Eldene Centre and the community centre but they decided to try and put it at the end of the East Locality meeting and a lot of other stuff.
“But the residents wanted to talk about it so we had to force the issue in the end.
“We know there are three units in the Morrisons shopping centre and we know that the bookie’s and the fish and chip shop are going in there but they had trouble getting a newsagents in there which would also have a post office.
“But the other big bug bear is the community centre because there is talk of taking that down too.
“The community centre is the hub of the community.
“It includes a kindergarten school, it’s got a bar and there’s a hall as well where people can hold weddings, funerals, everything.
“It’s a place for people to go for people all around.
“They’re also planning on taking down the community centre in Walcot.
“It just seems that the council don’t want community centres.
“The volunteers in the community centre work very hard to keep that community centre up to standard.”
But councillors have said that although there are no plans yet to tear down the community centre, the demolition of the Eldene Centre cannot take place until residents living in the flats above have left and the shops’ leases are up.
“Very often we get very emotional about things that really affect us.
“But if we are to make progress we have to get together and work together. I think it might be an idea for residents to form a committee who could work with the ward councillors on these issues.”
Coun Fay Howard (Lab, Liden, Eldene & Park South) said: “We are particularly aware that this community centre needs some TLC.
“There’s a long list and we are working on the community centre.
“We are working with what we’ve got and doing what we can, but the flats can’t be demolished while people are living in them, and there are three units in the Morrison’s where some of the shops can go.”
Tu Tiet, who works at the Eldene Chinese Takeaway, said: “We don’t really know for sure what’s happening.
“We know that Morrison’s have a unit that we can move into but it hasn’t been fitted out yet and we haven’t been handed the key, so it’s just a matter of waiting.”
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