Councillor slams lack of centre communication

Newton Stewart Community Centre. GG 0602022 13
Newton Stewart Community Centre. GG 0602022 13

A COUNCILLOR has publicly slammed a lack of consultation over proposals to close Newton Stewart Community Centre.

Mid Galloway councillor Alistair Geddes said it was unacceptable of Dumfries and Galloway Council to allow staff at the facility to hear about the plans “through the grapevine”.

Speaking at a meeting of Cree Valley Community Council on Monday, Mr Geddes added that this yet another consultation to come under criticism.

Around 10 users of the building on York Road, which is proposed for closure as part of council cost-cutting measures, turned out to speak at the meeting with spokesperson Wendy Scott of the community centre’s management committee explaining their fears.

She said: “We realise this is at the very early stages but we really feel we need more communication. That hall is so busy, we are having to turn people away.”

She highlighted a few of the disadvantages of moving their groups to the McMillan Hall, which is being proposed, and added that groups may fold if numbers aren’t maintained.

Laura Hunter from the Pumpkin Mother and Toddler group said that the group had been a huge support for her following the birth of her first child and she feared that support would drop in future due to the unsuitability of the McMillan Hall to accommodate the current number of users.

Mrs Scott added that staff at the community centre should have been informed first-hand of the plans.

Councillor Geddes said: “It must have been a real slap in the face for the council officials who work there who weren’t even aware of this, and that is simply unacceptable.

“I have no problem in principle with the council seeking to rationalise their building stock, but I do take issue with it being done in such a way that the public and staff know nothing about it. However, this is certainly not a done deal.”

He suggested looking into the possibility of a community buy-out and said there were options which could be brought forward to save the building.

He also suggested setting up a working group to push forward ideas and the needs of the community.