‘Sort things out or go’, King’s Lynn community centre chiefs warned

Sarah Jordan and Joanna Jordan angry about memorial to late daughter Emma being removed from Discovery Centre, ANL-161105-150249009
Sarah Jordan and Joanna Jordan angry about memorial to late daughter Emma being removed from Discovery Centre, ANL-161105-150249009
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Managers of a troubled community centre have been told to shape up or get out by local residents.

The ultimatum has been issued in a petition to save the Discovery Centre in North Lynn, amid growing fears for its future.

Sarah Jordan and Joanna Jordan angry about memorial to late daughter Emma being removed from Discovery Centre,
Copy pic of Emma Jordan ANL-161105-150302009

Sarah Jordan and Joanna Jordan angry about memorial to late daughter Emma being removed from Discovery Centre, Copy pic of Emma Jordan ANL-161105-150302009

Officials admit their actions have “hurt” the local community, but insist the centre would have already closed if they had not taken action.

Last month, councillors called for business leaders to come forward to help save the Columbia Way facility following funding losses.

But the petition, in the name of Friends of Discovery, claims no new funding has been sought for services in the past 10 months.

It says: “We, the community and users of the Discovery Centre, want after school and school holiday provision as delivered for the last 14 years and we understand there is a group of trained and qualified staff willing to run these sessions on a voluntary basis.

“If the current management committee are not committed to resuming this service, they should stand down and give the building back to the community that purchased and refurbished the building.

“We have a willing group of capable people willing to take this on.”

But Kevin Howard, who chairs the centre’s board of trustees, has vowed to turn things around and pleaded for campaigners to work with him and his colleagues to do so.

He said the decision to close the centre’s Open Access after school service earlier this year had led to “a lot of misconceptions and rumours” about the building’s future.

But he maintained they had been forced to act after plans to replace a previous grant provided by Norfolk County Council to meet the £100,000 cost of the scheme fell through.

He said yesterday: “We have hurt people and it was with a heavy heart that we did it. But that building wouldn’t belong to the community if we hadn’t done that. We would have gone into liquidation.

“People say they’ll build houses on it. Over my dead body. We are going to keep that centre open for the community. It’s going to be a struggle but, instead of fighting, working together is what we need to do.”

The petition’s grievances also include the removal of the sign to a cafe at the centre, named in memory of 17-year-old Emma Jordan, who was killed in a car crash in July 2000.

Her family has claimed the memorial was removed without prior consultation with them. They also claim that, despite a pledge it would be investigated, they had heard nothing further.

And the petition said the move demonstrated that the centre’s managers “couldn’t be trusted.”

But Mr Howard said he had personally apologised to Emma’s family and proposed a new, permament tribute to her.

He said: “Nothing I can say or do is going to assuage the grief they feel and the fact we have contributed to that is something that pains me deeply.”

He also rejected suggestions that the centre was charging a dyspraxia support group, which has claimed it is now having to close, £25 per hour to use a facility it had previously used free.

He said that a £15 per hour charge had been introduced for groups wanting to use the centre’s rooms, but said an additional £10 charge for use of the kitchen had been waived.