Bright Sparks provide excellent, much-needed services for local children with complex additional needs. Such is our respect for their work that we approached them several times over the last year in the hope that they would work with us to ensure the #Hub catered properly for their users. Although they declined to be involved in the community bid, we wish them every success as they look to extend their vital services.
Unfortunately, Midlothian Council have indicated that they may use Bright Sparks' request for the back hall as reason to knock down three quarters of the building.
So, you might be disappointed by this confusing development. You might think we lost... but:
- Twelve months ago, and at various points in between, the Council had scheduled the entire building for demolition. If it wasn't for you and the campaign, there would be no building for anyone to occupy. One quarter of the building is definitely now safe.?
- We've shone a spotlight on the groups who feel socially isolated and excluded within our community - pre-schoolers who lost their indoor play facilities, elderly people evicted from their meeting place in the centre of the town - all to make way for the new Lasswade Centre which doesn't cater for them. Youths with nowhere to go and nothing to do except hang around the streets. These groups have been overlooked and marginalised by this Council. Well, no more. We have shown that a play centre, youth club and community rooms can all still be housed in the main part of the building which Bright Sparks don't want to use. The Council still has a chance to do the right thing by these groups. ?
- After our petition last year, volunteers spent 2600+ hours following the process laid down. Midlothian Council promised a 25 yr lease if a community group could show the whole building could be reused to provide resources and facilities for all vulnerable groups and that it would cost the Council nothing to set up and run. The Council's Review Panel recommendations accepted that ours was the only formal bid "worthy of consideration", and it was subsequently described by Council Leader Owen Thompson as a "very strong approach".?
- We've proven that, in community hands, the whole building can work for the whole community, including Bright Sparks. The onus is now on the Council to prove to the people of Bonnyrigg why a single brick of the building needs to be pulled down.
- And in doing all this, we've rallied our community to stand up, show our spirit and stand together for what we all believe in.
We won't allow Midlothian Council to goad us into fighting our neighbours and dividing our community. We will continue to seek for groups to share this valuable space.
Instead, lets register our views on Midlothian Council's mishandling of this process; reiterate the community's desire to see this whole building returned to service for the benefit of all vulnerable groups in our town; and we will publicly hold Midlothian Council and individual Councillors to account over the future of this building, depending on the outcome of their internal review.
If you feel that the 14 Councillors and the Chief Executive of Midlothian Council are failing in their duty to empower our community to provide services and facilities for all our residents then please take a moment to email the two key decision makers, Kenneth Lawrie, the Chief Executive Officer and Councillor Owen Thomson, the leader of Midlothian Council. Email these addresses: Kenneth.Lawrie@midlothian.gov.uk, Owen.Thompson@midlothian.gov.uk, firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you are an individual or a group who would benefit or would like to use this building, now is your time to register your interest directly with Midlothian Council. Email these addresses: Kenneth.Lawrie@midlothian.gov.uk, Owen.Thompson@midlothian.gov.uk, email@example.com
We have no intention of going back to the Bonnyrigg of one year ago. If our Council won't empower our community then we will empower ourselves. The ethos of the #Hub is still very much alive. Exciting plans are afoot. It isn't over until this community says it is! More interesting developments to follow.
We will be having a Hub meeting on Thursday to discuss this latest development in the campaign and the way forward. Please feel free to come. You will be very welcome. 7.30 pm Pavilion in George V Park.