Serious steps are now being taken to try and ensure the Community’s vision for Parkfield Youth Centre in Paignton becomes a reality.
The overall vision presented by Paignton Town Community and Preston Community Partnerships back in May this year sought to create an incredibly exciting ‘active and social’ centre.
“We have sat tight until now but with the Council now taking steps to decide the centre’s future we are raring to go and keen to build on the momentum and support gained so far. As part of a team effort we are planning to hold a public consultation event in Victoria Street and a youth event at Parkfield in the New Year to ensure the community are involved every step of the way. So be sure to have your say” said Louise Gilson, Chair of Paignton Town Community Partnership.
“The number one aim is to run the youth centre to its full potential. Others include creating an active and social centre for everyone else during the school day, to run suitable programmes to help more local people become healthier and fitter, to run Parkfield House as a youth hostel and outdoor activity centre using the YHA’s branding and booking system.
“This would look to achieve a financially sustainable solution for the whole Parkfield site and a bonus would be for Paignton to become one of UK’s Health and Fitness capitals in 2020 – a new idea for our tourism offer and a wonderful way to enjoy our garden town by the seaside!” said vice chair of the Paignton Town Community Partnership, Richard Kaskow.
Paignton Town Community Partnership secretary Colin Hurst managed to get very little in the way of a response from Mr Dempsey, Director of Children’s Services at Torbay Council, on the centre’s future, since the decision not to move Torbay School to the site back in May this year.
“The delay has been very disappointing given the millions spent on this facility. Only recently has Mr. Dempsey confirmed to me that Parkfield House will not be up for discussion”, said Mr Hurst.
“All this has to change in our view for three reasons – the first is that the original Myplace lottery application included for the house to become a hostel, the second is why should an office use take preference over the hostel use in what is a prime tourist accommodation area and the third is it will be a big missed opportunity not to utilise this superb heritage asset with its the walled garden, stable building and woodland setting – a delightful holiday location.”
At the same time Mr Dempsey confirmed the Council had appointed outside consultants FMG to undertake a soft marketing exercise with a 17 November deadline for expressions of interest, as reported in last week’s local press. The Community Partnership met the deadline with a considered response to the questions being asked following a productive meeting with interested parties, partnership members, councillors and a representative of Kevin Foster MP.
“Torbay Community Development Trust has expressed an interest on behalf of the collaboration that has a unique offer, because it is led by the local community”, said Simon Sherbersky, Lead Officer for the Trust.
“The time and talents available to be drawn on within the Preston and Paignton Town Centre Community Partnerships, include legal, accountancy and financial management, business expertise, voluntary time and skills across a wide range of areas, including architect, building management, entrepreneurialism and last but not least, direct delivery to support young people with Play Torbay, but that is the tip of the iceberg. There is a track record in this area in community run facilities, e.g. Paignton Geoplaypark.”
“Other members of the collaboration include Torbay Sports Council, Play Torbay, Eat that Frog CIC, DEVISE (Torbay and South Devon Social Enterprise Network) CIC and Torbay Community Partnership CIC, with support from Real Ideas Organisation, who have a successful track record of redeveloping assets for the community and working creatively with young people”.
Darren Cowell, Chair of Torbay Community Partnerships added, “We have the skills and resources needed to develop a financially sustainable business proposal, associated risk management and would like to develop our proposals in partnership with the Council and see the Council as an important partner in this process. We understand the need to reduce the costs to the Council, whilst improving the offer to young people and the wider community and have the networks and relationships to make this a reality.
“We are all based in the Bay and committed to developing a thriving centre for the long term, developing an outcomes approach to running the facility and providing associated activities and services in partnership with others. It is also important for us that Parkfield is seen as a hub for the bay-wide delivery of services for young people.”
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