Saturday, December 12, 2009

Opening of the Wilson Centre

Long Newton residents can be justifiably proud of their new community centre. 7 years of hard work have paid off and a drab, draughty though well used centre is now bright, airy and warm with internet connection and ground source heating. From a meeting to discuss selling off the land for building to this is a huge achievement for any community. I was honoured as the chair of Western Area Partnership to be asked to referee one of the bids they made for funding and delighted when it succeeded. Earlier in the autumn they had a week of celebration in the community as part of which we had our monthly meeting in the newly refurbished hall. Today was the formal grand opening with Dari Taylor MP unveiling a plaque. Sadly, she chose to turn the occasion into a political one.
The vice-chairman of the Parish council spoke first about the hard work and dedication of the people who've achieved the transformation. Then Rev Norman Shave who was curate there when the initial bids were going in and early work being done spoke about the centre being at the heart of the community and everyone working together for the things that matter to them. Dari Taylor started by saying some of the same things but then turned to the importance of education and gave all the arguments she put in her letter, as well as saying several times that she wanted the people to be involved in the decision making, that it's not up to councillors to make the decision, that there should be a precautionary principle applied to pylons, that Preston Park might not be ideal but no-one has suggested anywhere better and that there's £20m waiting to be spent and it needs to be spent wisely! Towards the end a number of people behind me were saying "Oh come off it Dari". I did say to a couple of people that the £20m wasn't for Eaglescliffe but it wasn't the right place or occasion to start asking people to sign the petition!

After she'd unveiled the plaque we were invited to go to the hall where the WAPB meetings take place for refreshments whereupon Dari said "I paid for them but they're not on expenses" and then went on at length about how she doesn't have a moat or a duck house and because 18% of MPs had broken the rules they were all tarred with the same brush and isn't it dreadful. At that people really were getting restive and muttering.

All that doesn't stop me celebrating the achievement of the community. The photo shows Nora Rosser, one of the leading lights in the campaign and their representative on the Western Area Partnership Board. She and all the committee deserve every congratulation.

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