Youth group has to move to three-bed house in row over centre building

BATTLE: Campaigners who fought to save Fagley Youth and Community Centre, front from left, Bob Griffiths, Councillor Ann Wallace & Matthew Graham, with centre users behind

BATTLE: Campaigners who fought to save Fagley Youth and Community Centre, front from left, Bob Griffiths, Councillor Ann Wallace & Matthew Graham, with centre users behind

First published in News

COMMUNITY groups are planning to hold their sessions in a three-bedroom house as a row over their youth centre continues.

Centre staff and users were evicted from Fagley Youth and Community Centre last month, when the landlord, Bradford-based charity Newlands Community Association, changed the locks.

Now social landlord Incommunities has stepped in to offer local groups a house on the estate to use temporarily, but campaigners are still calling for a permanent solution to be found.

An Incommunities spokesman said that as "a caring and responsible local housing landlord", it wanted to support voluntary groups across its communities.

He said: "In order to continue the valuable community development work that was previously carried out from the Fagley Youth and Community Centre, we are providing accommodation in the area on a temporary basis until a more permanent arrangement is found."

Centre bosses claim they are being pushed off the site before their lease ends so it can be sold off, potentially to make way for a new free school.

An emergency meeting to try to broker a deal over the use of the centre ended in deadlock earlier this month.

Bradford Council had tried to persuade Newlands bosses to start a dialogue with centre staff and users, and to negotiate an interim agreement for the use of the centre.

But Councillor Andrew Thornton, who was at the meeting on behalf of the authority's Executive, said Newlands refused to give way.

He said: "We asked Newlands to consider their decision to lock this group out.

"They did consider that but would not change their mind, which I think is unhelpful."

Ward councillor Ann Wallace (Lib Dem, Eccleshill), who is campaigning on behalf of the centre, said Newlands' stance was "ridiculous".

She said while Incommunities had been a huge help, using a three-bedroom house to host youth groups for 40 children in a house would be "like a rave", and a permanent solution needed to be found.

She said: "It's nowhere near big enough, but at least they can continue to deliver youth work."

Cllr Wallace said locals had now started a petition calling for the community to get its centre back.

The Telegraph and Argus has tried to contact Newlands, but its phone numbers no longer seems to connect.

Sikh faith organisation, the Khalsa Foundation, plans to open an engineering academy at the site in September - which would be six months before the youth and community centre's lease runs out.

Newlands had previously asked for the lease to be surrendered early and invited the centre to move to a new venue half-a-mile away in the empty St John's Church.

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