Residents fight to save Baneswell Community Centre

South Wales Argus: Baneswell Community Centre (3949472) Baneswell Community Centre (3949472)

BANESWELL residents are fighting to save their community centre after Newport City Council warned it needs around £170,000 to bring it up to an acceptable standard and faces being sold off.

The council has opened a public consultation on the proposal and have already faced opposition with some warning it could become an eyesore close to the city centre if a developer buys it but just lets it lie dormant.

At a public meeting for Stow Hill ward last week, the council’s property services manager Don Waters gave a presentation outlining why the centre was at risk.

The large old building set on many floors did not comply with disability regulations, he said, and there were “serious risks with mechanics and electrics”.

Refurbishment would cost an estimated £170,000 including refurbishment and decoration and dealing with major damp problems in the basement ground floor, where fungi and mould are present.

He also said there had been a decline in use and now regular groups used it for only 16.5 hours per week.

But local residents said it was a vital part of the local community and they would fight to save it.

June Thompson, from Baneswell, said: “There’s so much that can be done with this centre.

“If they knock it down, it will be four or five years until the company or whoever gets it is going to have permission to build on it. If it’s left empty, it’s going to get vandalised.”

Fellow councillor Miqdad al-Nuimi told the meeting the strength of feeling around saving the centre was clear. He said: “We’ll form a new committee with user groups represented.”

Meanwhile Stow Hill ward resident Pat Wright suggested the centre should be used for lunch clubs and coffee mornings for the centre to become a focal point for the community. She said: “There’s a demand for it.

“It’s up to people in the community now to say, ‘I want to use it.’”

According to the council assessment, “the main attraction of the centre is its very cheap hourly rate”, which is just £6.

Groups including chess club and tai chi use the centre each week.

The council said there were alternative venues within five to 10 minutes walk including the Baneswell Social Club, Share Centre, St Mary’s Baptist Church Hall and Newport Education Centre.

There will be another Stow Hill ward meeting on June 10.

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