Westfield centre pensioners club hit by NLC term time decision

Westfield Senior Citizens group
Westfield Senior Citizens group

Senior citizens are set to miss out on a vital service at their Cumbernauld community centre because of cuts by North Lanarkshire Council.

The pensioners’ club at Westfield Community Centre has been hit by the local authority’s decision to change access to term-term only, when the schools are in operation.

It means that the pensioner’s club - and other community centre user groups - will be restricted to 38 weeks of the year instead of 52.

The council wants to save £400,000 and make “best use” of 26 rural facilities around the region.

But the move has been condemned by Billy Lees, chair of Westfield Senior Citizens/Cumbernauld Community Forum, who has written to CultureNL to express his anger.

He said: “We have been booking the original centre and the new centre for the last 40 years.

“We feel now, as senior citizens, our rights are being taken away from us and we are back to our school days, having to give up weeks of our social life and activities because the council is closing our community centres for term time.

“It did not have the courtesy to consult with the clients who book the halls. Senior citizens are not children and should not be treated as such.”

Mr Lees pointed out that his elderly clients have mobility issues and would find difficulty getting to alternative facilities outwith the community.

The move by CultureNL has been branded as outrageous by Neil Gray MP and Alex Neil MSP.

Mr Gray said: “Yet again, a North Lanarkshire Council organisation is following a short-sighted, quick-fix route to saving money.

“The repercussions of this move will be felt for many years to come.

“For many folk, going to groups and events in their local community centre can be the only interaction that they have with other people for days on end. Alex Neil MSP and I are looking to meet with CultureNL as soon as possible to stress the need for this move to be reversed.”

Jillian Ferrie, chief executive of CultureNL, said: “In order to make best use of facilities and to save over £400,000, we have carried out a review of the use of community facilities.

“As a result, 26 facilities will now operate during the school term time only.

“However, we will still have a further 42 sites that will either operate 52 weeks of the year or as per the existing bookings.

“This change allows us to protect highly valued services such as libraries, community centres and vital front-line services.

“We have written to all groups affected asking them for their preferred alternative location appropriate to their requirements.”