The manager of a Bermondsey community centre has said proposals to cut their Southwark Council grant by 25% will hit the upkeep of the vital facility, used by thousands of people.
Beormund Centre manager Coral Newell told the News following a meeting with Council Leader Peter John this week: “They listened but nothing else really. I don’t think they’re going to do anything.”
She said the Abbey Street centre would carry on serving the community despite the cuts but it would suffer as a result.
Ms Newell said: “We have [money] reserves but they are used for the upkeep of the building, like heating and hot water and a new roof. The building is old and the conversion carried out just under 33 years ago was not that great and has led to a number of major repairs.”
In the last few years, the centre has had to shell out over £400,000 on essential maintenance.
She said: “Now we will need to use our reserves for the running costs and the building will suffer as a result.”
She said the centre needed more support from the council, not less, and that the cuts were not fair on the staff, none of whom have had a raise in five years, or the people who use the centre.
“There are so many people and groups who use the centre because they know it is a welcoming and safe environment.”
Young people have also spoken out against a proposed 73% cut to the borough’s youth service, which is being currently consulted on.
Harry Dobson, a youth community council representative for Bermondsey and Rotherhithe and a volunteer at the Salmon Youth Centre, said that the council should try to preserve youth centres at all costs.
The 18-year-old Bermondsey resident said: “They should keep them open so young people have got a safe place to go. It’s just going to lead to trouble otherwise and that’s more work for the police. I understand they need to make cuts but it’s too much of a big chunk. If they do this we are not going to have a good world to live in. The crime rate from young people will probably go up and there will be trouble on the streets. They’ll be sitting outside schools doing nothing, taking drugs and alcohol and these are children.”
Council Leader Peter John said: “We have worked hard to protect frontline services, keep council tax and rents low and continued to support the fantastic work the voluntary sector is doing for people in our borough despite significant cuts by central government to our budgets over the last five years. However, as we look ahead to further cuts from government we are now at the point where we are having to look at making some very difficult decisions about how we fund and provide services to the people of Southwark.
“It is important to us that residents have their say, which is why we are still consulting on proposals and no final decisions have yet been made. For the voluntary sector the sad truth is that we have a reduced pot of money to offer as grants and competition for it is high with a growing number of excellent local organisations seeking funding, which is why we are reducing some grants rather than cut some organisations off completely.”