Big, bad wolf austerity threatening the very fabric of our communities

Community centres are part of the social fabric of every town and village, but are under threat of closure. Picture: Michael Gillen
Community centres are part of the social fabric of every town and village, but are under threat of closure. Picture: Michael Gillen

Community centres are the places the old folks’ groups meet every week to offer elderly residents somewhere to have a cuppa and some company – the only social interaction some will have.

Kids go there for youth clubs and to play sports and a plethora of other groups from Scouts and Guides, camera clubs, rambling, reading, cooking and over-50s groups meet in them.

Michaela Tripney and Brian Glasgow of the Bowhouse Community  Association. Picture: Michael Gillen

Michaela Tripney and Brian Glasgow of the Bowhouse Community Association. Picture: Michael Gillen

If they are lost to communities, what happens to the fabric of communities – this is the human cost of austerity.

In 2014 Bowhouse Community Association took a run down and tired Bowhouse Community Centre and, with the help of £250,000 investment from Falkirk Council, turned it around to make it a vital, well used facility.

Despite the success of the venture, there are still concerns over the centre’s future.

Hairdresser Michaela Tripney is the chairperson. She said: “We are in the same boat as everyone else at the moment.

“We are in talks with the council about the legalities of taking over the centre and running it as a business. We are bringing in money, but at this stage we can’t get any answers.

“No one seems to know what is happening, it’s quite frustrating. In think there has to be incentives for people to take the centres over such as subsidised rents, but no one in the council has the answer to any of these questions.”

Falkirk Council is facing a budget gap of around £20 million for 2017/18. Its own workforce has already been reduced seven per cent over the past two years. Officials have prepared a wide range of cuts which will be decided on by councillors in February.