Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Moving Sid to the community

Ask any Councillor what is the best part of the job, and they will very probably say it is sorting out a knotty problem for someone they represent, or making something happen in the community.

Last Thursday was a very happy occasion with the official transfer of the Sidney Walter Centre in Worthing from West Sussex County Council to the community.

The County Council has provided youth and other community services at the Sidney Walter Centre for some time. The future has recently been under review, with the community willing to take on the full running of the centre. This was an aspiration very much supported by the local Councillors, who felt that the best way forward was for the community to take total responsibility for running the services and managing the building.

I believe that the local community is best placed to run such facilities, as they know what is needed for their community. That is why the County Council is prepared to transfer buildings such as the Sidney Walter Centre to the community. However, and without wanting to sound too bureaucratic, we do need to see a robust business case before we transfer buildings as we need to ensure not only that the facility becomes a real hub for the wider community, but also they are able to manage the centre for the long term and keep it sustainable.

Preparing the business plan does take time and effort, which is why we lend a hand at the County Council and local Councillors also get involved.

Talking to people at the Sidney Walter Centre, it was evident that they appreciate all the facilities they provide and many friendships have been made and grown. Looking around, I was particularly impressed by the lovely watercolour paintings produced by the local art group.

Dave Arseneault and Doreen Read at the Centre are totally committed to its future and have been instrumental in making the transfer happen. It was a delight to meet them as they are living examples of making a dream become a reality.

I wish the "Sid", as the Centre is so affectionately called, all the very best. I am sure it will flourish as the Community Centre run by the community for the community.

Best wishes,
Louise

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