Fears for the future of York community centre which has been ‘left to rot’

Heworth ward councillors outside the 68 Centre: (L-R) Claire Douglas, Anna Perrett and Bob Webb
18 Feb 2020 @ 7.32 am
| Politics

Councillors say they fear for the future of a once-vibrant community centre, accusing the council of running it into the ground.

The 68 Centre is now deemed unfit, with a report last year stating that organisations will soon have to move out.

Heworth Labour members have accused the Lib Dem-Green run council of failing to start a consultation on transferring the building through an ‘asset transfer’ process, and claim this is a managed decline which could end in demolition.

The council has already established that no one wants to take over the building in its current state. Ward councillors are now calling for investment so it can serve a useful purpose.

Sell-off concerns

A community asset: the 68 Centre. Photograph © Google Street View
“The 68 Centre has been run into the ground really,” said Cllr Bob Webb.

“You have to wonder whether or not this is a planned approach of managed decline by the Liberal Democrats, so that the building can be demolished and replaced with something else, or even sold off to the highest bidder.”

He added:

  • The building was used for youth services, something the city is crying out for and which it could be used for again. 

    We want to see the council give a serious commitment to investing in the building and to do away with the farcical idea that someone will want to take on a building with asbestos in it that requires around £200k spending on it in the next few years.


Huge potential

The 68 Centre on Monkton Road. Photograph © Google Street View
Councillors have held a public meeting with various ideas put forward for how the building could be used in future. But many charitable or voluntary organisations lack the capital funding required to make the building structurally sound.
Fellow ward councillor Claire Douglas said:

  • There is huge potential for the 68 Centre to provide decent space for local community use and for organisations running activities for city-wide groups, as have been taking place there recently.
    But it requires investment. The roof needs replacing and the windows are rotting. 

    The current council is borrowing tens of millions to fund other capital schemes, and could easily fund these repairs if the political will was there to commit to community venues in all parts of the city, not just in some

The council response

Liberal Democrat executive member for culture, leisure & communities Cllr Darryl Smalley said the council has held an extensive consultation on the future of the 68 Centre with its users, ward councillors and others.

He said: “As an administration we have committed to maintaining the 68 Centre as a community space, and there will be further public consultation before any decision or recommendations are made.

“Currently the main user of 68 Centre is Choose 2 Youth, who are providing great services to young people with learning and physical disabilities.

“After carrying out a feasibility on which building would most suit their service needs, Choose 2 Youth have given their preference to move to Moor Lane, and the council is investing significantly to refurbish that venue.

“Once they have completed their move, Choose 2 Youth will benefit from a new and improved facility to support young people in the city.”

He said the previous Labour administration “put libraries under threat, and attempted to close community facilities like Yearsley Pool”.

“The Liberal Democrats will continue to invest in the city’s community facilities, such as the £4m investment in Acomb and Clifton libraries, to the recent refurbishment of the Moor Lane community centre.”