Eye Library and Youth centre petition presented to full council

Resident Dale McKean gave an impassioned plea at this week’s full council to save Eye library and Youth Centre on Crowland Road in the village. The building which was originally the villages school then a library and Youth Club, was gifted to the council, but now finds itself in the firing line to be sold. As well as the youth club the centre is used by the Brownies, Rainbows and Girl Guides. You can read more about the sale in our previous story here. The Mayor, Councillor Nick Sandford invited Dale to present the petition which has over 1,517 signatures. Just a few comments from the meeting below. I’ve left out the party politics, if you want to see them and the full meeting you can see it here: www.youtube.com/live/kpyb-wvKKW8

The youth centre and library building was gifted to the City Council

Eye resident Dale McKean who was joined by our MP Paul Bristow said “The youth club started 61 years ago when the youth centre and library building was gifted to the City Council by the former owners, but with restrictive covenants. Girl Guides and Brownies started there 50 years ago. The city council closed down Eye senior youth club five years ago and the currents clubs have been running on a voluntary basis for the last 18 years.”

“In February 2022 a National Youth Guarantee backed by £560 million investment was announced. To date £160 million of grants have been approved.This was to build, renovate and expand Youth Club provision, this fund has now closed and this council has lost the opportunity.”

The question why wasn’t the council applying for any of this fund?

Councillor Howard proposed that the petition should be referred to the February cabinet meeting where Eye Library and Community Centre will be considered and cabinet will be able to take into account the petition and comments made by members this evening in line with the asset review.

Our ward Councillor Steve Allen said “Dale McKean is passionate about the youth club and he with his partner run a very successful facility there. It’s good to see the support from Eye residents who were greeting us as we came into the meeting this evening… When valued local facilities are threatened this generates concerns in the affected communities… This building has article four protection… We are very much behind the campaign for Eye to have viable Youth club facility… Importantly I would ask the administration to ensure the relevant officers put in a full shift and ensure that valuable government funding for youth provisioning noted in the petition is applied for and secured without further delay.”

Councillor Hogg said: “I am a strong proponent in making sure that the centre is protected.”

Councillor Cereste said: “I think it’s diabolical that we are even considering we are doing something in Eye, to close down the library and Youth Centre building. If there was an alternative that was going to provide an even better facility and better service then fine. Community are assets are really important, and look very carefully before any of these community assets are closed down.”

We will do all we can to look and make sure that the right and fair decision for the city and of course for Eye.

Councillor Harper said “Dale, I take my heart out to you for the fine work your doing there and wish you well and we will do all we can to look and make sure that the right and fair decision for the city and of course for Eye.”

Councillor Thulbourn said “Every single person in this chamber has not properly engaged (in the review). Dale has had put in the petition together because we haven’t engaged in the property review, all we’ve done is pointed fingers at each other. This is a fundamental change as to how the officers want to engage with us and we have the opportunity to do good things. The review goes both ways, it can be extremely positive or negative. Why though haven’t we gone after the money that’s available?”

Dale has had put in the petition together because we haven’t engaged in the property review. All we’ve done is pointed fingers at each other.

The discussion did get very political at times but a reminder that you can see the full meeting online here: www.youtube.com/live/kpyb-wvKKW8

Dale ended the meeting with an emotional speech  “I’m a bit emotional, it’s been a long two months…” Dale thanked our MP Paul Bristow, the leader and deputy leader and the officers of the assets because there has been very good engagement, especially with estates. He then went on to say “However the grant side has been negligible, I’ve had to chase to talk and get an email name for the grant team in communities and send to them all of these links to government grants and put this case and the financial information together.They’ve missed loads of opportunities and there are more to come and hopefully with the question in parliament there will be a third phase as well. We need somewhere for those 12 years olds to go once they come out of the care of the Junior Youth Club… Someone said when they are gone, they are gone for good, and that’s really important. It doesn’t matter about the politics in this room, what matters are the kids.”

Our MP Paul Bristow has since said ” I was shocked and quite frankly embarrassed at some of the behaviour that took place on the night. There was bickering and squabbling about whose responsibility it was and whose fault it was – it felt like being back in the school playground.” Read more.

Dale isn’t always appreciated for the work he does for the community but a big thank you to him for trying whatever the result ends up being. As an individual dealing with the city council can at times be challenging, emotionally draining and you need to do a lot of research in the background to even stand a chance. If it wasn’t for Dale and the Open Space Group the land behind Manor Farm Community Centre would probably be housing by now, not a well used park. We shall follow this story as it continues.

And to take note policy LP40, which is linked to the future Tanholt Farm housing development on Eyebury Road says: “Provision of wider community facilities as identified through consultation with the wider Eye community (subject to viability, deliverability and consideration of long term management of such facilities);”. So to increase not decrease community facilities.

I’ll leave you with this, it was said at the meeting that the council needs £3 million to bring the city’s community centres up to scratch. The city council literally wrote off £2.6million in relation the the failed solar scheme and £3 million would seem to be a small amount in proportion to the £47 million the council managed to find to purchase Sand Martin House where the council offices are based…

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