Social media fight to save threatened community centre

Hundreds of people turn out to the meeting at Brinkburn Community Association
Hundreds of people turn out to the meeting at Brinkburn Community Association

Residents have taken to social media in a bid to convince council decision makers to save a South Tyneside Community Centre.

Brinkburn CIO is one of a number of centres in the boroug at risk of closure, if its committee is unable to secure a long-term lease.

As of April 1, all community centres within South Tyneside will have their council funding pulled as part of cost-cutting measures.

Since a public meeting was held for centre users and residents on Monday nigth, hundreds have taken to social media to highlight the need to retain the building and its sports fields.

Brinkburn supporters group currently has almost 800 likes. An online petition has almost 600 signatures.

Coun Jim Foreman, who led Monday night’s meeting which attracted over 300 people, said: “The turnout at the meeting, the letters people are writing, the time people are taking to post videos on social media.

As a councillor and an ex-cabinet member I know the situation with regards to the budget, but sometimes you have to put social needs and responsibilities before the pound signs.

Coun Jim Foreman

“It shows the strength of feeling people have for this centre and depth of social need that this centre provides for people of all ages.”

He added: “It’s obvious people care about the centre and it’s this message we need to get across if we are to have any chance of saving it and being handed a 40-year lease.

“Without a long-term lease we won’t survive.

“As a councillor and an ex-cabinet member I know the situation with regards to the budget, but sometimes you have to put social needs and responsibilities before the pound signs.”

Centre users have also taken to writing letters of support as to why the building and sports fields should be retained addressed to the council leader Iain Malcolm and Chief Executive Martin Swales.

Meanwhile, a number of groups keen to set up home at the venue, and plans to increase revenue, have been put on hold until a decision on the lease is made.

A council spokesman said: “We are still in the final stages of evaluating the bids for all the Community Associations.

“We recognise some of the issues raised and are working closely with the management committee at Brinkburn CA to agree an interim arrangement before deciding on the long term management of the site.

“Brinkburn Community Association occupies just part of the wider Brinkburn site and it is important not to confuse the two issues.”

For details on the drive to save the centre visit the Brinkburn supporters group on Facebook where a link to an online petition can be found.