An Aberdeen community centre chief today said centres have been “vindicated” following a climbdown by city councillors over how they are run.
Aberdeen City Council was accused of trying to take “too much control” of the city’s 21 community centres and 16 learning centres and how they operate day-to-day.
People from several centres across the city attended a meeting at the Town House yesterday, where councillors met to discuss the controversial proposals on the table.
The agreement put forward by officers suggested compelling centres to achieve goals laid out by the council’s local outcome improvement plan (LOIP).
Following a debate lasting around three hours, John Wheeler, the council’s operational delivery committee convener, agreed to make changes to several of the proposals.
This included throwing out a plan to replace the existing leases and management agreements with three-year leases and instead keeping the lease period as 10 years.
This followed criticism from community centre chiefs who said they would not be able to apply for extended funding on shorter-term leases.
A decision was also made to throw out formal adherence to the goals laid out in the LOIP.
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Evening Express newsletter
Speaking to the Evening Express after the meeting, Mr Wheeler said the strength of the deputations from the centres, plus ongoing discussions with officers, had convinced him the plans needed altering.
He said: “I hope what we’ve got is something that will help develop stronger relationships with community centres and give them some certainty over the funding they had concerns about.”
Paul O’Connor, chairman of Inchgarth Community Centre, said representatives felt “vindicated” by yesterday’s decision.
He added: “We made the case clearly and concisely that the best people to make decisions for local community centres are those who are living and working there.
“I’m happy the council have also agreed to extend the lease. It’s a common sense approach and will satisfy anyone who wishes to get extended funding.”
However, Mr O’Connor said the latest debacle “begs the question” why community centres were put through the process in the first place.
He added: “This has to be the last time we’re subjected to this.
“We welcome the city council to work in partnership as equals in the full understanding we’re independent, autonomous organisations.
“The people who work in these facilities are delivering outstanding services, value for money and opportunities for the wellbeing of everyone in the community.
“We’ve been vindicated in our position and we thank Aberdeen City Council for listening.”
Mr Wheeler reassured community centres they would not have to enter back into consultation again in the coming years.
He said: “There was really extensive consultation with the community centres over a number of months.
“And I would say that will certainly be it for the coming years.
“We won’t need to enter back into consultation.”