Bankfield community centre, Liverpool sit-in against closure

Sep 26 2005

'Just try to move us out'

CAMPAIGNERS have mounted a sit-in to save a community centre threatened with the axe.

Liverpool's Church of England leaders claim Garston's Bankfield House is unsafe.

But determined local residents have moved into the centre and are refusing to budge until a compromise is reached with the trustees who run the former vicarage.

Adults and children have remained inside the building since Friday to show their anger against the decision.

Karen Dodson, chariman of the centre's supporter's association, said: "As long as we are inside, the bulldozers can't come in.

"We've been watching videos and making pans of curry and scouse so the spirit among us is very good.

"This centre belongs to the people of Garston and was paid for with donations from our grandparents back in the 1950s."

Mrs Dodson said: "The building is structurally sound and is only in need of a facelift for which we have extensive plans which are dependent on grants and trust funds hope-fully being made available.

"There are hundreds of people who rely on this centre who have suffered from a complete lack of consultation."

Centre user Claire Dooley, of Garston, said: "I have used the centre since I was seven and I want my nephews and nieces to have the same opportunities.

"It is not like the centre is not being well-used."

The Archdeacon of Liverpool, the Venerable Ricky Panter, who is a trustee of Bankfield House Trust, said: "The Bankfield Trust has done fabulous work in the community over the years and the trustees are sorry that Bankfield House has to close.

"The condition of the building has seriously deteriorated over the years and there are significant health and safety issues that mean it is no longer viable or safe to use.

"What will happen to the building after the tenants leave is currently being considered, but the trustees are glad that the Garston Urban Village Hall next door has excellent community facilities."

Garston MP Maria Eagle pledged to take the matter up with the Bishop of Liverpool.

She said: "I am concerned at the speed with which this decision was made. Bankfield House has been part of the community for 50 years. I want to know what is going to be put in its place. I want some answers."

(from Liverpool Echo)