Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Why would you close a community centre

which has 20,000 users a week? Why would you close a gym, a swimming pool, meeting rooms, a workshop, and a hall? Why would you give 85 community groups nowhere to meet? Above all, why would you close a library - with the books, the DVDs, the CDs, the magazines, the computer terminals and the staff with the knowledge that rivals that of any Citizen's Advice Bureau? What is more, why would you do it in an area with a low socio-economic status? It may have improved slightly over the years but the area is still not upper middle class professional suburbia.
Our state government plans to do just that. Indeed the deal has gone through and it will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse. They have sold the land on which the Parks Community Centre sits for a mere $17m - far less than the value of the centre to the surrounding community.
There is, rightly, an outcry in and through the media. All this came out in the Budget. It did not come out at election time. The government has, ever since elections have taken place in this state, taken for granted the votes of the people who live in that area. They will, despite all this, probably be able to go on taking for granted the votes of these people. It is one of the advantages, from the politician's point of view, of compulsory attendance at the ballot box.
But, it will not bring back the Community Centre. There is no plan to replace it, or any of the services it provides. The government claims that there will be Centrelink (social security) and health services in the new development. They will need both. I hope the health services provide a big mental health unit. They will need it to cover what the Community Centre now does. The government clearly has not understanding at all of the wider benefits of any community centre. They just see it as costing $5m a year to run - cheap when you consider the cost of running a mental health unit and cheap when you consider the numbers involved.
No, I do not live on that side of the city. My library is probably safe. It sits in a memorial park. It is unlikely that even the government would dare to touch the park. I have always thought of my library as safe too. I have thought of it as a community asset. I have thought of it as the social hub of the community.
The same is true of the Parks Community Centre. Why would you close it?


Anonymous said...

Okay Cat, you know my views and I will be seeing my local MP this afternoon - along with a few others. We plan to ask a few questions - and he had better have very good answers! Bob C-S

Anonymous said...

I think we would save much more if the grey building next to the railway station in North terrace was closed. The people who use that building are better placed to find somewhere else to meet than those around Parks.

Judy B