For the past few years the residents of Forest Fields have been without a community centre to call their own. In 2014 this is going to change with the reopening of the building located on Sturton street, as mentioned in the previous Robin Hood Solidarity Newsletter. It still has not been decided who will manage the centre, and discussions on this issue are currently underway. There are three suggestions being talked about, which we lay out now.
The first option will be familiar to anyone who has heard anything about other council owned community centres in Nottingham. This is to put the management contract of the community centre out to tender. This means that any organisation within the city can put forward a plan of how they would finance and maintain the centre as well as fill certain community service obligations that the council has decided are necessary. This plan minimizes the possibility of resident involvement and control over their community centre, and gives organisations with no roots in Forest Fields an opportunity to profit from what should be a community resource.
To their credit, local councillors O’Neil, Jones and Ibrahim have made small steps towards offering another option. This was talked about briefly in our previous issue, and revolves around the formation of a consortium made up of Forest Fields based groups and organisations, who would join forces and push the community centre into a more resident-led direction. Whilst there are many positives to this solution, issues surrounding the speed in which this consortium could be put together are highlighted by the fact that there has been no resident’s meeting nor follow up of any kind to the meeting held in November which first raised this possibility.
It is this lack of residents involvement that causes us at the Robin Hood Solidarity Group the most alarm, and leads us to option three, that it be placed in the hands of only those who are residents or work in the neighbourhood, that involvement in the centre is open to all who are Forest Fields based and wish to become involved. We need to begin having well publicised and numerous public meetings around this issue in order for us to come to some community agreement on what we would like the centre to be for and how it would best serve our needs. This public process could be tied into the consortium process, and could impact and guide how that consortium functions or it could be something entirely separate.
As a resident of NG7 for 25 years I have witnessed the dismantling of community centres by this council, and seen money for community projects squandered. Buildings once meant for community use now stand either empty or used for only a select few. I feel it is of massive importance that this does not happen to the new community centre in Forest Fields, and encourage all residents to make their voices heard by attending any public meeting they hear about and contacting local councillors with your demands for community involvement in our community centre.
If you wanna carry on this discussion, or have any comments, get in touch
Call us on 07747 431859
Visit us (Tuesdays 10-2) at The Forest Fields Advice Centre, Wiverton Road