Closure of Pill Millennium Centre will 'kill community' - protesters
MORE than 100 people protested outside Pill Millennium Centre last night, objecting to its closure.
The Millennium Centre, known as Pill Mill, no longer has the funds to operate after a key user pulled out in October and temporary financial support from Newport council came to an end last April.
More than 100 people from around Pill gathered outside the centre, bearing placards which read “Killing the community” and “No Pill Mill = Trouble”.
Newport councillor for Allt-yr-yn Charles Ferris told those gathered inside the centre: “There is no funding, there is nothing. If you want to save it, fund it yourselves. It breaks my heart to say it but I am giving you an honest answer.”
St Joseph’s Boxing Club is one of a number of Newport sports clubs which held shows at the centre.
Coach Roger Williams said: “We have used this place for over ten years and its closure will impact on the community, it is really well supported.”
Chris Malpas, who ran the Daddy Fats café at the centre, said he found out on Friday that he would be out of a job.
“Every race, colour, creed and age uses the centre,” he said. “Where is Pill’s money?”
Courses and after-school clubs such as the dance school were well attended, said dance teacher and former duty manager Nicole Lao.
“We were called in to say it was closing straightaway and that we had lost the hall for dancing. Most of the kids walk here, they couldn’t go further.”
Peter Sanders, who organises baseball games in the area, said Pill was due to have investment in the form of a skatepark but that it ended up at Tredegar Park.
“Pill is the most deprived area of all,” he said.
“If you don’t give the kids somewhere to play sport you are looking at problems.”
Council: Trust’s liable for centre
NEWPORT council said the decision to close Pill Mill is a matter for the trust that runs the building.
Bernard Sefton, vice-chairman of the Pill Millennium Trust, said they sought new funding from the council worth £36,000 a year, but none was forthcoming.
Mr Sefton said: “The residents of Pill have come up with a very strong message that they do not want to see this place close.
“I understand the council’s short of money, but this centre is the heart of Pill.
All they need to do is get more of their departments to use it and it would be self-funding.”
A spokeswoman for Newport council said it was deeply regrettable and disappointing that the trust had been unable to resolve its financial difficulties.
“Even if the premises are closed, the trust remains liable for the centre until alternative arrangements can be made,” she said.