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‘Lifeline’ Paignton community centre saved

Thursday, 4 January 2024 09:14

By local democracy reporter, Guy Henderson

From left - Cllr David Thomas, Cllr Jackie Thomas and Cllr Yvonne Twelves (Image:Torbay Council)

Funds found to complete vital repairs

A community centre threatened with closure after the bill to repair a vandalised fire escape escalated has been saved.

There was anger after landlords Torbay Council said the popular Foxhole Community Centre’s main hall couldn’t be used until the fire escape was fixed at a cost of up to £30,000.

Liberal Democrat councillors said money earmarked to make the repairs had been spent elsewhere, and demanded to know what happened to it. And volunteers running events at the centre said the news had been a “kick in the teeth.”

But now cash to make the vital repairs has been found, and repairs can begin next week.

Council leader David Thomas (Con, Preston) said: “Working in partnership with Foxhole Community Centre, we are pleased to advise that the work on the fire escape will shortly commence.

“The centre obtained a new quote for the work and in addition to the one-off payment that the council had previously identified, ward councillors Jackie Thomas and Yvonne Twelves are allocating the remainder of their community ward funds to help meet the cost of the works.”

Each councillor in the bay is allocated £2,000 to spend on community projects in their ward, and the two Conservative councillors will use their pot for Foxhole.

There was an outcry across social media when Foxhole Community Association chairman Trevor Shepherd-Burridge broke the news that the centre may have to close if repairs could not be completed. Supporters said the centre was a “lifeline” for the local community.

And the council’s Lib Dem leader Steve Darling (Barton with Watcombe) said: “It seems foolish to see something so positive for young people being closed down when there are high levels of anti-social behaviour happening in Paignton.

“We should be enriching places like these rather than putting them in a position where they have to close down.”

A statement from the community centre after the funding announcement paid tribute to Cllr Thomas and said: “We are extremely happy to say that we now have a builder in place who is aiming to start work as early as next week.

“We would like to say a massive thank you to Jackie Thomas for all the hours of chasing, pushing and relentless emails and phone calls she has made.”

The statement also thanked the centre’s supporters, saying: “It has been an extremely difficult situation for all, and the show of support from you has proven to us that all the work and effort over the last 10-plus years from all our volunteers is definitely worth every minute we put in.

“You have shown us that even during the darkest hours it is definitely worth doing and to never give up.”

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