When the demolition of the Linwood Community Education Centre was announced to make way for an access road for a new £24m state-of-the-art Sports Hub, local residents raised concerns that the loss of their much-loved community centre, which had served the community of Linwood for more than 45 years, would lead to social isolation.
Although the new Sports Hub was welcomed by the people of Linwood, they believed that fragmenting the 1000+ users of the existing Linwood Community Education Centre into the new Sports Hub and other venues throughout Linwood would have a negative effect on the quality of life for hard-to-reach groups and would also break down the intergenerational work currently experienced.
On 3rd March 2010, a group of local volunteers formed the Linwood Focus Group (later to become Linwood Community Development Trust), as they were passionate about preserving the recreational, cultural, social networking, educational and personal welfare resources within Linwood.
It became apparent throughout 2010/2011 that the lack of community facilities was a wider issue within Linwood. This was enhanced when:
- It was announced in June 2011 that the overall budget for improving Council assets throughout Renfrewshire had made a saving of £0.6m and this funding would be used to provide a 3G ‘All Weather’ pitch in Erskine. At the same time, it was announced that the budget for Linwood Sports Hub would be reduced by £0.6m and a 3G All Weather Football Pitch would not be included within the current plans;
- It was confirmed that the Tweedie Hall was being replaced with a £5.3m community hall as part of the Tesco redevelopment of the derelict town centre; however, there was no formal consultation with the wider community on the design of the building. This raised concerns whether these plans would meet the needs of Linwood residents.
Since the Linwood Community Development Trust was established on 7 December 2011, it has successfully brought together community groups and individuals in Linwood who share common concerns about the lack of community consultation during major regeneration projects in Linwood. Together we believe the current projects that are underway will have a significant impact on the community groups who use the facilities at present.
Why is this important?
Community centres are essential to the survival of sustaining community spirit within local communities, as they are not merely buildings but the cornerstone of the local neighbourhood. They should be impersonal venues that serve the needs of residents seeking a traditional, informal and affordable way to meet with friends and neighbours in their local community.