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Sincerest Form of Flattery?

Posted on December 28, 2016 at 6:45 PM

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”

Oscar Wilde

Cllr Simm, at South Oxford Community Centre, publicising the radical changes the Council is to force on the community at East Oxford Community Centre (lazy OxMail photo edit journalism - or perhaps councillors don't want to go near EOCC at the moment...)


The latest puff piece from the City Council appears in the Oxford Mail on December 27th. In it, Cllr Simm opines on the vision of a ‘community hub’. You may have heard this phrase before. It’s not something the Council is given to talking about, as it implies they are actually working with the people they are employed to serve and councillors represent – when in fact they only ever pursue their own self-aggrandising agenda while being deaf to community needs.


Where did you hear it before? Well, from us. In our proposal to take over Temple Cowley Pools and operate it at no cost to the Council and great benefit to the community, we addressed the problems the Council has caused over many years by taking facilities away from the Cowley area. Like the Cowley Community Centre, now ‘replaced’ by a block of flats and a charity outlet, and including two ‘community rooms’ – the size of two disabled toilets. These are no replacement for what was there before, the centre that was much loved, admired and used by Cowley.


We would have rebuilt the gym and changing areas, and added much-needed social housing, café, public space (two studios/general areas) and treatment rooms. This would have formed, yes, a community hub, a focus for the Cowley area to replace what the City Council took away. But, rejected by the Council in favour of a scheme to get them £3.6m. Anyway, it’s great to see a community hub anywhere in the Council’s thinking – just a shame they didn’t want to do it for Cowley. Please remind your Labour councillor next time they tell you what wonderful things they do for the city.


The rest of the article is also interesting, and reveals again how the Council seeks to control every bit of public (‘community’;) space for profit. Rather than let East Oxford Community Centre run independently and carry on delivering what people want, the Council has stepped in and taken over the centre from the Community Association that’s been successfully running it for years. Apart from the centralisation policy of control, the Council is set on closing down two other centres local to EOCC, and selling them off for housing. When this first came to light, the Council said there was no truth in the rumours. Well, yes there was. Then they said the activities could be transferred completely to EOCC. But of course that will mean ‘improvements’ (for which read ‘wholesale changes nobody wants’;), funded by the sale of the two other centres for housing development. Then the plans emerge for ‘consultation’, showing not only that badminton will now be impossible (unlike previously promised), but part of the EOCC land will have to be sold off. Or, as Cllr Simm so indelicately asserts, “If you have a centre that needs improvement and is based on quite a large site, we need to ask if there is scope for selling some of it.” And in order to fund the operation of EOCC (which was running quite happily previously) the Council will do what they have at other sites, bring in “police, ambulance and other services”. Doing this will lose the community feel of EOCC, as has happened at Barton and Rose Hill. Why, we have to ask, does the Council feel it has to control everything, and not listen, again and again, to the community it exists to serve?

 

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