In light of recent events at the Easton Community Centre we, some of the former staff at the Centre, feel it is important to express our incredible sadness and anger regarding the decision to close the Centre without any community-wide consultation.
We are happy that Bristol City Council (BCC) has decided to keep the Centre functioning at some level until the end of March. It is a pity that not all the projects and services could remain open and that staff have not been consulted about this, but it is a relief to know that several evening activities have continued with minimal interruption, beyond the initial panic that followed the sudden announcement of the Association going into liquidation.
We are also aware than many discussions are taking place regarding the Centre’s future. While it is unfortunate that the local residents and former staff are not being consulted openly during this process, we remain hopeful that BCC is working hard to resolve the management problems of the past, to prevent such a farce from occurring again and that the previously existing services and projects will be re-instated. Despite being resentful about losing our jobs and the termination of our projects, we are also hopeful that, once a short-term solution has been found, the BCC will launch a full inquiry into what did happen and begin a consultation with Easton residents about how the Centre can be best used and managed in the future. As former ECA staff we demand that we be included in any discussions about the Centre’s future and in any inquiry that investigates the Centre’s demise. We also demand that our current situation be taken into account and that we are considered eligible for re-employment when the Centre re-opens.
We believe it is important to state that most of us who worked at the Centre did so with the best interests of the community in our hearts and minds and that, if the seriousness of the impending crisis had been explained to us sooner, we would have done our best to involve the local residents, service users, tenant projects and facilities hirers in finding a solution. It was with sadness and anger that we left the Centre and we miss the amazing people we were lucky enough to meet every day.
As we all know, it’s not over yet. There has been no public announcement regarding the Centre’s fate after the end of March and the former staff members are still awaiting payment for hours worked, as well as redundancy and notice pay. When the building does re-open, under whatever form of management, it would do well to remember this time and the lessons learned from it, the primary one being that local residents be included in a formal membership and Steering Group structure, to ensure that the Centre remains an accountable community resource instead of a lack-lustre black hole down which money, trust and hope disappear. We believe that the Centre must remain open to local residents, serving the many diverse communities of Easton, and should be part of a greater BCC strategy for developing community services and youth, arts and culture programs for the Easton area, in order to address the recognised deprivation and disadvantage in our area of Bristol.
Please email email@example.com if you have any comments regarding this statement.
If you care to make your feelings and/or proposals known to BCC, here are some useful email addresses and phone numbers:
0117 939 3089
0117 903 1970
0117 903 1938
Executive member, responsible for Regeneration
0117 987 2238
0117 922 2000