Stay of execution for two Luton community centres threatened with the chop

Bushmead Community Centre
Bushmead Community Centre

Two community centres threatened with closure have been given a temporary reprieve.

On Monday night Luton Borough Council’s executive committee agreed to keep community centres in Bushmead and Raynham Way open until March 31, 2017, allowing campaigners time to prepare to take over their running.

Last month Luton Culture told LBC that it could no longer afford to run the centres, after it found its donations from the airport would be slashed by £1 million over the next two years.

Residents in Bushmead and Raynham Way rallied and held meetings to discuss the move, prompting LBC to rethink a planned consultation on the possible closures.

Campaigners now have 12 months to bring forward “credible and viable” business plans to take over the running of the two centres.

An LBC spokesperson told the Luton News: “A further report will be submitted to the executive on 27 June, 2016 outlining the detailed costs, operating mode and risks for the retention of Bushmead and Raynham Way community centres until 31 March 2017.

“Officers will be working with community groups to offer help and assistance in developing their business plans.”

Though councillors have agreed to a stay of execution for two community centres, the futures of four others remain uncertain.

A consultation is set to go out to residents on Park Town, Limbury and Marsh Farm (Futures House) community centres, which neither Luton Culture or the council have the money to keep open.

Luton Culture has also asked LBC to find an alternative operator for Farley Hill Community Centre in the next two years.

As well as cutting funding to Luton Culture, the airport is decreasing the amount of donations it gives to Active Luton by £500,000 over the next two years.

As a result Dell Farm Outdoor Centre may be forced to close.

Active Luton will continue to run the Whipsnade facility until August, when it will be returned to council.

Its usage is said to be in “steady decline” due to competition from “larger outward bound centres that have more to offer”.