£1m centre of little attention

PUBLISHED: 13:10 25 August 2006 | UPDATED: 19:47 01 June 2010

Chris Stevens outside the shunned Village Community Centre - Pic: BRIAN PURDY

Chris Stevens outside the shunned Village Community Centre - Pic: BRIAN PURDY

A COMMUNITY centre built with more than £1million of European funding is being shunned by locals. New manager of the Village Community Centre in St Michael s Avenue, Wisbech, says her first job is to attract users back to the centre. Chris Stevens has bee

A COMMUNITY centre built with more than £1million of European funding is being shunned by locals.

New manager of the Village Community Centre in St Michael's Avenue, Wisbech, says her first job is to attract users back to the centre.

Chris Stevens has been in the job just a week and says she does not know why the centre, officially opened by the Princess Royal last November, has failed to become the hub of community activities.

"It is certainly being under-used and it is such a shame," she said. "I would say during term time when there are more activities it is getting about 60 per cent use but in the summer months and holidays it is very quiet and much less."

The centre, formerly the Oasis Centre, was funded with £1m from GO-East and the East of England Development Agency and money from other groups. It was described by the head of the European regional development fund for the East of England as a brilliant example of how European funding could benefit a local community.

But despite offering state-of-the-art facilities, including an IT suite, meeting rooms, large hall, kitchen, creche and nursery, many groups which previously used the Oasis Centre have not taken advantage of the new centre.

Chris said: "It has been very quiet since they opened the new centre.

The old centre was really used a lot by locals. I have not got to the bottom of why people won't use this centre. It is a really nice building so we need to raise the profile."

She wants to hear from volunteers who could help in the centre and from people with ideas about what the centre should offer.

"We want to provide services which people want to use," said Chris. "It's no good applying for funding for things if no one wants to attend."

- What do you think? How should the centre make itself more attractive to the public? Send your suggestions to the editor or to our website at www.wisbechstandard. co.uk

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