Community centre café row
PUBLISHED: 15:05 23 September 2011
BOURNVILLE residents have voiced outrage at the decision to close their community centre café, claiming it is vital to the estate.
The For All Healthy Living Centre café in Weston’s Lonsdale Avenue is used every day by people who say it plays a crucial role in the community, giving people a communal place to meet, eat and get out of their homes.
Residents are angry the café will close before any plans have been made about what will happen to the facility in future.
The centre’s 9am-5pm café service will be replaced by teas and coffees from 11am-2pm, while its lunch club, which provides hot meals for elderly people, will start serving microwaved meals instead of oven-cooked food while the café kitchen is closed.
Upset residents expressed their anger to For All Healthy Living Company chief executive Mark Graham at a public consultation meeting this week.
Councillor Ian Parker said: “Old folk have been getting nutritious meals on this estate for 30 years. You are to bring that to an abrupt end.
“I think you are pulling the wool over our eyes. You are not being open with us. It’s time you told the truth.”
Café volunteer Sam Tsibu-Darko said: “If we are going to close this café there must be a plan. There must be a plan for a café and a plan for the community.”
The community centre was previously owned by the South West Community Association (SWCA) but got into financial difficulty, then the non-profit For All Healthy Living Company took over.
Chief executive Mark Graham said: “I recognise that there is a lot of anger and frustration and it is important for me to talk about that.
“I can’t tell you when it is going to re-open but it is not going to be shut forever. I have three priorities for this café. To make it healthy, affordable and high quality.”
He said he hopes to reopen the café within six months but that there are no plans about how it will be run or how long it will be open for. He said it could cost up to £10,000 to refurbish the café’s kitchen, but added he didn’t yet know where the money will come from.
Asked if the three people who lost their jobs would be rehired when the café reopens, Mr Graham said: “I don’t want to promise jobs.”