CBC & Its Use of Houghton Regis Community Centre

  • Houghton Regis Community Centre will continue to be used for education during the day, and for Community Groups during the evenings and weekends.
  • Debate on feedback on a Consultation by Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) Executive, after the local authority closed the Community Centre to many community groups, was held today. 

The purpose of the item on the agenda was (1) to share the findings of the public consultation [that was carried out after the centre was closed to daytime community groups without prior consultation] that ran late last year and (2) to approve the future operating model for Houghton Regis Community Centre (Bedford Square). The Council proposed that the Community Centre would continue to operate a dual-use (education and community) on a permanent ongoing basis; providing education support for young people with special educational needs during weekdays in term time and be available for community use in the evenings, weekends and school holidays.

Cllr Pat Hamill, CBC ward representative for Tithe Farm posted to his Facebook Page after the meeting finished commenting, “The Tory Controlled Executive Committee voted to give over our Community Centre to education.  Cllr’s Goodchild, Cllr Farrell [CBC representatives for Houghton Hall ward] and myself, plus the Town Clerk spoke to take it back but like most decisions on this Council, I felt they had already made up their minds before debate took place. 

“They could not care less about 19,000 plus residents in Houghton Regis who hardly got a mention in their responses.  This outcome means that no community building is safe within Central Bedfordshire under this Tory administration.”

And Cllr Susan Goodchild told News Desk, “I was personally bitterly disappointed that yet again, the community of Houghton Regis, has not been listened to by the Executive of Central Bedfordshire Council.  They paid no regard at all to the recommendations of the Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee.”

A portion of the CBC report. Read in full p22-60 

Town Clerk, Clare Evans addressed the meeting stating the case for why the Houghton Regis Town Council would like to see the Community Centre returned to full community use, and not dual-use as is the current case.

In the debate proper, Cllr Ghent pointed out that they had to act fast when an existing educational provider was unable to continue, otherwise vulnerable young people would have been without an educational facility. He explained that they had apologised to community centre users and said they were all matched to alternative accommodation. 

Several speakers including local councillors for Houghton Regis also spoke. The background report to the Executive Meeting can be found here - on pages 22-60. Listen and watch the ensuing debate here:

In summation, the Leader of the Council, Cllr Wenham, stated that the Council had a duty to look after vulnerable children and went on to take a vote.

The Executive voted and unanimously approved the recommendation.