Appeal launched to source community support and cut refurb costs for Hitchin hub
PUBLISHED: 15:14 05 March 2015 | UPDATED: 15:14 05 March 2015
Campaigners are appealing for help as they bid to cut a facelift bill which is casting a shadow over a valuable community hub.
Walsworth Community Centre is facing an uncertain future after a North Herts District Council report recommended closing the building or even demolishing it rather than spend £160,000 on bringing it up to scratch.
The centre was discussed at Tuesday’s Hitchin area committee meeting, with Keep Hitchin Special chairman Chris Parker among those to speak.
Afterwards he said: “The ballpark figure of £160,000 to refurbish the centre seems very excessive to me and many others who care about this building.
“I would say the council has an agenda in trying to close this building, so they can not only add to their coffers but dispose of the land, too.
“We are launching an appeal asking the wider community in Hitchin to rally round and try to do their bit to help save this much-loved centre.
“We are looking for volunteers who can offer even an hour or two of their time. But we’re also looking for experts and professionals who could offer their services free of charge in order to undertake work – which will then hopefully reduce the cost of the final council bill of £160,000.
“We’re looking for specialists who can help with the re-pointing of brickwork, and people who can assist with the external decoration of this building.
“We’re also looking for people to clean out gutters, re-lay and polish floors, reinstate fencing, and assist with the replacement of old windows.
“This building hosts everything from ballet and dementia groups, to the Townswomen’s Guild and the Hitchin Christian Association. It’s a huge asset and must be kept as such – we hope the community will rally round and help.”
Heather Summers and her daughter Rebecca Daniels also supported the task force call to help save the Woolgrove Road building, which dates from 1852.
Mum Heather, of Common Rise, said: “The centre is such a valuable place for the community, and if we can get people to come forward and help give the building a bit of tender loving care, not only will it help spruce it up – it might even lower the bill quoted by the council required to keep it open.”
Daughter Rebecca added: “It would be great if everybody helped to try and keep the community centre open. I would be very sad if the council closed it.”
Councillor Alan Millard, who represents the Walsworth ward, said: “I fully support any help the community can provide the centre in terms of volunteering and practical assistance.”
If you would like to lend a hand contact firstname.lastname@example.org