The Petition of residents of Park End, Middlesbrough,
Declares that the Petitioners are concerned about the prospective closure of Park End Community Centre, which recently received £102,000 in lottery grant funding for a multi-games court, a skate park and a garden; that the Petitioners believe that this is a much-treasured community facility used regularly by residents of all ages and that the Petitioners are concerned that the closure of the centre will also have a negative impact on staff and users of the nearby Park End Medical Centre.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to ask Middlesborough Council to ensure that funding for Park End Community Centre remains in place and that the centre remains open.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Tom Blenkinsop, Official Report, 14 December 2011; Vol. 537, c. 891.]
Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:
The support for local community facilities is a matter for the local discretion of the council, in consultation with local communities. However, the Department for Communities and Local Government has undertaken a number of steps to support the voluntary sector and community facilities.
In September 2011, the Department issued new Best Value guidance: a “fair deal” which cuts back unnecessary red tape on local authorities, while introducing new requirements for councils to consult with local voluntary organisations on changes to funding and service. It will also give the voluntary sector the opportunity to offer options for reshaping and improving local authority services.
The Community Right to Bid, being introduced through the Localism Act 2011, will offer new rights for voluntary groups to protect community resources like leisure centres, village halls and libraries. Groups will have the time they need to develop business plans and raise funds. This crucial breathing space will ensure that they are not squeezed out of open market sales of valuable local assets. We have extended funding for the Asset Transfer Unit by £1 million into 2011-12 enabling the unit to continue to offer practical support to communities who want to take on public assets such as youth centres, museums and former town halls for the benefit of local people.
The Localism Act also introduces a Community Right to Challenge. Voluntary groups that have a track record of working with their community and delivering results will have the chance to show what they can do to run and improve local services. The new right will put them on the front foot when it comes to taking over a local service and has the potential to open up new funding streams. Middlesbrough can expect Formula Grant per head of £577 in 2012-13 compared to the national average of £525.