01:53PM, Tuesday 29 September 2020
A Maidenhead Community Centre (MCC) trustee has said a new permanent site proposed by the council ‘ticks every box’ after months of uncertainty over the future of the facility.
Jack Douglas spoke at an extraordinary meeting of the Royal Borough on Monday where members debated a petition to prevent the council from moving the centre to an ‘inadequate’ site in the Town Hall.
The centre is located in York Road but the site has been earmarked for development.
During the public part of the meeting, councillors agreed to note the report before discussions moved into a private session - where they set out a ‘proposed way forward’ to secure the future location of the centre.
During the public session, the council’s executive director Russell O’Keefe said that this would involve Maidenhead Community Centre (MCC) being relocated to Marlow Road.
He told councillors: “The proposed way forward would involve Maidenhead Community Centre moving to 4 Marlow Road.
“That would be a site in line with the requirements they have indicated and would not involve a move to a temporary site.”
Speaking to the Advertiser after the meeting, Mr Douglas said he had not had a formal offer from the council to move here, but leader Cllr Andrew Johnson (Con, Hurley and Walthams) tweeted on Tuesday this week to say he was ‘delighted’ his colleagues had supported his proposal to move MCC to this location.
The petition was launched in March by Mr Douglas to stop MCC being ‘kicked off’ its existing site.
Mr Douglas said at the meeting: “I want to be clear that we considered this [move to Town Hall] a generous offer. However after careful thought we also considered that it would likely have resulted in a destruction of the services.”
Cllr David Coppinger (Con, Bray) said: “What we are proposing is such a leap forward for them, everyone has to support it. What 4 Marlow Road will give them is far more parking, so that will really help the older people and others who are not as mobile.”
Ward councillor Donna Stimson (Con, St Mary’s) said at the Zoom meeting: “I whole-heartedly support this resolution. I cannot think of one reason why we would not have full support for this."
Fellow ward councillor Gurch Singh (Lib Dem, St Mary’s), agreed, adding: “I am delighted the council is listening. This is fantastic news. I am very pleased MCC has been offered a permanent home which will enable it to continue its practices within the town centre.”
Both Cllr’s Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green) and Jon Davey (WWRA, Clewer and Dedworth West) asked why the decision had taken so long.
Cllr Davey said: “This should have been dealt with before and we should be ashamed of ourselves that it has had to take two petitions.”
Cllr Johnson said: “This evening marks a milestone in terms of this administration delivering upon its commitments.
“We do have some transactional business to take care of in private, and we look to give the community centre the home to develop - which they deserve.”
There were queries over the decision amid the ongoing consultation on Royal Borough children’s centres.
A consultation ended last Wednesday on the council’s plans to shut nearly half of the centres to make way for a ‘central hub’ model.
The council’s director of children’s services Kevin McDaniel said: “We look forward to conversations with MCC about delivering those essential services that the consultation concludes we need to continue to run.”
Mr Douglas added after the meeting: “We have not had a formal offer or a move-in date but once we have got those two things we will be moving in.
“It is everything we ever asked for in terms of parking and a central location. It ticks every box.
“We count ourselves very lucky that the opportunity came up and we want to make a fantastic go of it and build it up. We do not think there is anything stopping us now.”
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