Volunteers need help, not hindrance, to run facilities

Craig Simmons, Oxford City Council deputy Green group leader

Craig Simmons, Oxford City Council deputy Green group leader

First published in News

In June, Oxford City Council officers told East Oxford Community Association to leave the community centre on the corner of Princes Street because of concerns about the way it was being run.

Meanwhile the city council is trying to move all community associations in Oxford on to new short leases, which has been controversial.

With discussions between the two parties ongoing, city councillor for St Mary’s and deputy leader of the Green group Craig Simmons says why he thinks the authority has been too heavy-handed.

Oxford Mail:

  • East Oxford Community Centre

Our view was that Oxford City Council should never have issued the eviction notice because East Oxford Community Association is a group of volunteers and they need support to help them manage the community centre better.

There are individuals involved in the community association who are very dedicated to the centre and they are in the majority.

The council should allow them to continue to occupy the premises but give them dedicated officer support.

Oxford Mail:

  • The users of East Oxford Community Centre, centre, include the Womanity women’s festival

The situation there is like any community centre run by volunteers: it has its ups and downs because it depends on people who volunteer their time and the skills of those involved.

All of Oxford’s community centres, and not just East Oxford, have their problems.

Oxford’s community centres used to have dedicated officer support, but it was withdrawn. The council should have intervened earlier and what happened was that when it did intervene, it just criticised the community association rather than offer them help.

They told them what to do and gave them an action plan that was always destined to fail because the community association didn’t have the resources to deliver.

Oxford Mail:

  • The Cowley Cotton Club dance group uses the centre

What the community association needs is resources and someone to help them.

I am extremely concerned that the city council has had plans for the community centre for some time and that the council is using this to make changes which the community as a whole has resisted.

Development at the back of the community centre has been mooted for some time.

There is no signed lease at the moment and the city council wants to move its community centres on to short leases, but the problem with short leases is that you cannot get funding.

Oxford Mail:

  • Oxford Green Print ethical printing co-operative has also used the centre

That has always been the argument from all of the community associations and the late Bill Baker was very vocal about this as part of the Oxford Federation of Community Associations and as a former Labour councillor.

East Oxford Community Association has a lease at the moment – and, of course, they need a lease – but long leases are much more sensible because community associations need more stability. I don’t think there is any question about that.

It is the terms of the lease that the city council is seeking to change that I object to and the main one is the length of time it lasts for.

My worry is that if the council takes over the running of East Oxford Community Centre then it will be turned into a hall for rent rather than a community centre, which is what I believe has happened to other centres in Oxford.

Oxford Mail:

  • Fusion Arts have also used the East Oxford Community Centre

The replacement for the Cowley Community Centre is just going to be a room for rent, and that is a direction I very much resist.

We want community associations to be at the heart of their community and not just rooms which the city council rents out.

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.

Send your Letter to the Editor: What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter for publication here

11:20am Monday 28th July 2014

What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.


Our top stories

Nicola Blackwood: I'm battling a genetic mobility condition

Oxford Mail: Nicola Blackwood

8:00am Tuesday 31st March 2015

NICOLA Blackwood has revealed she has been battling with a genetic condition for years but believes it has not affected her performance as a politician.

Google Maps lets you play Pacman around the streets of Oxford

Oxford Mail:

6:56pm Tuesday 31st March 2015

Arcade game aficionados will be in heaven as Google has enabled people to play Pacman around the streets of Oxford.

Two appear in Oxford court over slavery charges following raids in Redbridge Hollow

Oxford Mail: oxford magistrates court

1:27pm Tuesday 31st March 2015

TWO people appeared at Oxford Magistrates' Court today following a series of dawn raids by police investigating slavery allegations.

Gold engagement ring stolen in Banbury burglary

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

11:22am Tuesday 31st March 2015

Burglars broke into a property in Banbury and stole jewellery including a gold engagement ring.

Food ratings: Kennington Bangladeshi restaurant gets zero star rating

Oxford Mail:

7:10am Tuesday 31st March 2015

THE manager of a Bangladeshi restaurant given a food hygiene rating of zero out of five has branded the decision unfair.

Letitia and Elliot take gold for Britain in ice skating champs as they dream of Olympics

Oxford Mail:

10:00am Tuesday 31st March 2015

A TEENAGE ice dancing couple from Oxfordshire have taken another step closer to their Olympic dream with a first European title.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree