Centre needs your interest to stay open

Ann Naylor and Andrew Godson at Turnsteads Community Centre in Cleckheaton which is facing closure under council cuts. Picture by Dean Atkins
Ann Naylor and Andrew Godson at Turnsteads Community Centre in Cleckheaton which is facing closure under council cuts. Picture by Dean Atkins

Anxiety is mounting over the possible closure of a community centre which serves as a meeting point for older people.

Turnsteads Community Centre in Cleckheaton is under threat as Kirklees Council’s budget plans are designed to cut £69m by 2018.

Users of the Turnsteads Drive building are looking at asset transfer, which would effectively mean them volunteering to run the service.

But secretary Ann Naylor said visitors to the centre, many of whom are aged over 60, do not have the time or the £12,000-a-year funds to keep it going.

Ann, 70, of Turnsteads Drive, said: “We’re in danger of the centre being shut down because Kirklees don’t want it.

“There’s nowhere else in our area. It’s nice for them [pensioners] to get to go somewhere. Really they just like to get together and have a natter and that’s so important now, that there’s somewhere just to sit and meet people.

“We don’t have the kind of money to keep it open. It’s all right saying everybody can be a volunteer, but not everybody has that time.”

Currently only Ann, chairman Richard Baftow, vice chairman Andrew Godsman and treasurer Eileleen Newsome organise events at the centre as and when required.

But to be able to maintain it they will need to host activities on most days, said Ann.

“I just don’t want it to shut down. I think it would be such a shame when it’s a lovely hall. Not enough people know we are there. That’s half the battle – getting people to realise it’s there.

“I’ve only been coming two years, but it’s been super for me, all the things I’ve got involved with.”

Kirklees Active Leisure have approached the centre to try and organise sports sessions such as ping pong and armchair zumba.

Coun John Lawson (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton), who has campaigned for sports provision in the town, said: “I think if we can take sports to where people are, that’s got to be a good thing.

“For the elderly, or those who don’t get out much or people who are isolated, it’s going to help with their long-term health.”

A spokesman for Kirklees Council said: “We are confident the community group have the skills and drive to undertake the running of the community centre, so it can continue to be used for the benefit of people for many years to come.

“We have been regularly meeting with the community and local ward members, including earlier this month), to look at alternative use for the centre, as it is under-utilised and the main tenant moved out over a year ago.

“During these meetings the community declared their interest in the potential asset transfer of the building.

“We are now actively working towards an asset transfer to the strong community group that has been established.”

Ideas for new activities, like children’s parties, are being welcomed by Ann. Call her on 01274 873234.