HAVE YOU BEEN
David Cameron made big play during the last election about his support for local communities. Localism was the buzz word and sure enough, localism is now steaming ahead.
Or is it?
The latest backing for localism came this week in a government scheme called Community Cashback offering grants to local groups to start small services such as grass cutting, cleaning or property repairs.
Localism gets strong support in
, mainly though much-admired pioneering work by Mr Rory Stewart, M.P. for Penrith and the Border. Cumbria
Carlisle gets no localism. Worse than that, support for it is in retreat. And that worries community groups which are now struggling to find venues to discuss their problems
Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation and its associated group, Carlisle South Community Association, are typical…. uncertain about how long they will continue to have the use of the friendly Family Church in Petteril Bank.The two groups have had free use for about twenty years. But now, the church has closed.
And in nearby Botcherby, a group run by the Federation-Botcherby Forever- is homeless for the second time in not much more than a year because community premises have been closed down.
A year ago, Botcherby Forever lost the Crown Social Club which closed. The group`s home since then has been the Botcherby Healthy Living Centre run by a kind and friendly organisation. Now that building has been closed after more than 30 years as a community centre.
Why is all this happening in
Carlisle? Much of the blame lies with the city`s principal landlord, the giant Riverside Housing Association of Liverpool. Over recent years, Riverside has closed down nearly all the city`s long-established community groups.
Riverside doesn`t like community groups-except its favourite groups. The favourite community groups get
Riverside cash and other support. Other groups get nothing.
is also very commercially-minded with its community property . One property in Welsh Road, Petteril Bank, has been put on the market. Riverside
The centre once was four council flats. Riverside converted them into a community job creation centre and fitted it out with a lavish array of computers. But nothing got off the ground and efforts by community groups to use the centre when it became vacant have been ignored.
Now the centre is empty again. An estate agent`s sign on the property says:”To let for commercial use.”
That estate agent`s sign, Mr Cameron, says all you need to know about localism in Petteril Bank, Carlisle.
Localism, Mr Cameron?
Have you been kidding?
CARLISLE is the blog of Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation. Information about the Federation is included in the first entry of the blog, dated March 25 2013