Residents of Lincoln Courts and Irish Street say if they are forced to amalgamate services they will boycott any community centre built at a neutral location.
According to Councillor Hilary McClintock, who has been involved in ongoing meetings on the issue, residents at both estates in the Waterside are angry that their concerns for the future wellbeing of their respective communities appears to be falling on deaf ears,
“Probably the greatest concern is that people will not be able to move out of their own communities to access services. At present both groups run clubs and have programmes for senior citizens, and some of those senior citizens attended last week’s meetings and said they do not have transport to take them out of their immediate areas.
“At the moment these centres are a lifeline to those people who would not have the ability to access facilities outside of their immediate locality,” Mrs McClintock said, continuing: “Both communities have buildings and they are places where those with physical disabilities and age-related issues are already planned for an have services already in place specifically for those people.”
Mrs McClintock said a show of hands was taken at the meetings and 100 per cent of the people were completely against the proposal to amalgamate both centres and to the building of a new facility on a site remote to their areas: “They said if a new centre is built then they will actively boycott using it. They believe the money will be better spent upgrading existing facilities.
“By building in a neutral area it was felt neither groups’ needs would be met. We had a large attendance from all age groups and there was a concern also from the young people, because both centres have thriving youth clubs, they are concerned that with young people attending from outside the areas, as well as from local estates, that it will create problems. Both centres currently provide content particularly geared to the Protestant, Unionist Loyalist communities, and have under-achievement programmes and diversionary programmes as alternatives to anti-social behaviour. The big fear is the existing community centres will become derelict and in addition to being eyesores will become magnets for anti-social behaviour.
“Both these centres are at the hub of their local communities where programmes and projects are tailored to and centre around their respective communities. In Irish Street, for example, there is concern about the fact it is an interface area and valuable work has been done there to tackle this. If the centre is closed it will impact negatively on this,” she said.