THE most deprived areas of Keighley will be badly hit by massive cuts to community funding this April, warn politicians and community activists.

They claim that the loss of Keighley’s three community development workers will rip the heart out of neighbourhoods already suffering from several years of public spending cuts.

There are also fears for the future of community centres on Keighley’s former council estates and inner-town areas as they compete for shares of a hugely-reduced Bradford Council budget.

The Council gives grants of about £4,000 per year to subsidise the running costs of community centres in areas like Bracken Bank, Braithwaite, Hainworth Wood, Highfield, Lawkholme and Knowle Park.

It also provides £63,000 a year for three community development workers who support both residents running the centres and other community groups across the whole of Keighley.

The council will this April cut the district-wide budget for such services from £890,000 a year to £436,000, with the Keighley constituency receiving a total of £64,000.

The community development workers will lose their jobs in March, and community centres will discover next month whether their applications for grants have been successful.

Councillor Khadim Hussain (Ind, Keighley Central) said that even though the Council faced multi-million-pound Government-imposed cuts to its own budget, it was vital that support continued for voluntary organisations.

He said: “Groups are facing a greater burden than ever before helping people affected by the wider cuts. Vulnerable people are being put at risk and they need support.

“It’s the basic contribution to community centre core funding that keeps these organisations running and bringing people together.

“Community development workers do vital work to empower communities and keep organisations going, so there will be a massive loss.”

Long-serving community volunteer Alex Brown is active at the busy Sue Belcher Centre in Bracken Bank and the Keith Thompson Centre in Braithwaite.

He said: “If we don’t get this funding, the Keith Thompson Centre could shut down in September. The £4,000 grant covers the electricity bill.”

Mr Brown said the Sue Belcher Centre was in a better position because it was a registered charity, but without the Council grant would only survive until June, unless alternative funding was found.

He added: “When our community downwind worker Pip Gibson goes there will be a huge void. Community development workers are the glue that hold communities together.”

Keighley town councillor Ron Beale, who represents Hainworth Wood, described the Bradford cuts as “short-sighted and morally wrong”.

He said: “Hainworth Wood It’s one of most deprived wards in the Bradford area. These community centres have a direct effect on cutting crime because they give young people somewhere to go. They provide a lifeline for the elderly and bring people together.

“It’s extremely important to have community development workers in community centres. Without them they’re like ships with no rudder, that could crash on the rocks.”