Thousands sign petition to save Chuter Ede Community Association from closure
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In recent months it was revealed that the community interest organisation operating the community association at Chuter Ede was closing due to financial reasons.
This was with the intention of helping groups operating from the South Shields centre to find new premises ahead of its closure.
The closure plans have sparked opposition from local residents and centre users, with fears raised about the permanent loss of the Galsworthy Road site.
At a recent meeting of South Tyneside Council a petition was presented calling on the council to ‘Save Chuter Ede Community Association’.
This included a total of 2,008 signatories, including 1,025 from within South Tyneside.
The petition was presented to full council on June 29, 2023, by Green Party councillor Rachael Milne, ward member for Biddick and All Saints.
Cllr Milne told full council: “The petition is to Save Chuter Ede Community Association, South Shields, as there are many young people and adults who utilise the centre both from the local community and surrounding area, as well as saving the spacious green area attached from development, as it is a lifeline for many”.
Despite owning the building, South Tyneside Council has stated that it has not been involved in the decision to close the community centre.
The council has previously outlined long-term plans for the site, which has been earmarked for extra care accommodation for adults with care needs.
Although this is still at the design stage with a planning submission expected next year, the council confirmed the plans would include “integrated community facilities” in line with some of the council’s core ambitions.
This includes “building strong communities and helping people stay well and healthy throughout their lives”.
Cllr Milne said she would continue to fight to save Chuter Ede and to prevent the loss of the “well-used community facilities” and green space.
The local campaigner, who was elected as a councillor on May 4, 2023, said Government grant aid could be used to make the community centre more energy-efficient and cost-effective going forward.
She added that the closure of the centre would “exacerbate” anti-social behaviour issues and raised questions about the future of ‘The Hut’ on site after September, 2023.
Cllr Milne said: “The petition was set up by a user of the centre who wanted to give a voice to others.
“We call on the council to halt demolition works and independently scrutinise whether the inclusion of the [Chuter Ede] site within the draft local plan was justifiable.
“Developing this land will leave the community with less than they have now.”
The petition has been referred to the council’s director of regeneration and environment for “further consideration”.
An update on the petition is expected to return to full council later this year.
More information on the online petition can be found here.