concern over centre plans

Forest Heath area saying that St John's Community Centre could be condemned imminently. If it closes a lot of different groups will be kicked out.''frnt - Donna Cooper runs Mildenhall Slimming World, one of the affected groups who have 170 members
Forest Heath area saying that St John's Community Centre could be condemned imminently. If it closes a lot of different groups will be kicked out.''frnt - Donna Cooper runs Mildenhall Slimming World, one of the affected groups who have 170 members
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THE uncertain future of a popular community hub has raised fears among groups that they could be made ‘homeless’.

The future of Milden-hall Community Centre, in St John’s Close, hangs in the balance after Forest Heath District Council announced proposals to revamp the building.

If the plans are approved, a new community centre would be built on the site, with work anticipated to start in autumn 2012.

But groups who use the centre now face the prospect of being displaced until the new centre is finished.

Donna Cooper, who runs Mildenhall Slimming World Group, said she had only moved to the centre in October 2010 and was given no indication that the group may have to move so soon.

“We were in the old Scout Hut for over 15 years and only moved because we’ve now got 170 members.

“Our group has very specific needs from a venue because it’s so large and we need a place for 52 weeks a year.

“I’m just gutted really – we only moved last year and now we are probably going to have find somewhere else which is proving very difficult,” she said.

Ms Cooper said she has checked for availability at Mildenhall’s other venues, including the Jubilee Centre and the Dome Leisure Centre, but with no luck.

She is now concerned that the group – which has ranked in the top six of Slimming World’s 7,800 groups – will have no choice but to fold.

Nigel Roman, Forest Heath district councillor and member of Mildenhall Community Association, which also meets at the centre, said the building was well past its use-by date.

“That hall was only built for the short-term and to bring it up to modern day standards would cost a lot of money.

“It’s cheaper to build a new hall and as far as I am concerned we will be fighting for a new one there until we get one,” he said.

Forest Heath District Council says it will work with existing users of the centre to make sure they find temporary accommodation while work is carried out, should the building go ahead.