City Mayor’s Latest Attack on the Highfields Centre

The following statement was posted on the facebook group of Highfields Centre last night. (Read the related article in the Leicester Mercury, “Row between Leicester mayor and Highfields Community Association escalates over 40% rent rise,” July 7.)

highfields

“Having cut funding for essential community (including arts and sports), advice and guidance services at Highfields Centre, the City Mayor has now decided to shut down the high quality and well established adult classes and pre-school group at that Centre.

“It seems his decision was as pre-meditated as his earlier decisions to cut funding to the Centre. A meeting set up in early June to discuss their on-going room hire requirements was apparently cancelled by the City Mayor and instead in late June, we received two LCC letters requesting our charge for two different room usage requirements, including their exclusive usage of the pre-school rooms and for this information to be provided in under a week!

“This information was provided on 1st July and it incorporated a reduction based on long-term usage, drew specific attention to the significantly increased utility and services cost and reminded the Council of the previous room hire and service charge cost being capped by them at a level considerably less than the true cost in 2010.

“On 2nd July, we received a further communication from the Council requiring our response in under 24 hours and in our response on 3rd July, we stated our proposals were both realistic and reflected the premium location and facilities at this Centre and that the Council’s suggested figure of £50,000 for the combined rent and service charges was completely at variance with the market rate but given their wish for the matter to be reconsidered, we would do so by 10th July.

“True to form and without further communication with us, the Council issued on 6th July their press release some two hours before notifying us about their decision. Contrary to their depiction of the events, letters had already been prepared for distribution to the pre-school parents on the morning of 3rd July and it appears their closure decision has not yet been shared with the adult learners or their part time adult tutors!

“Unlike the salaried mayoral team, our voluntary trustees are not on site and able to respond to the Council’s unreasonable demands for a considered response in under 24 hours! Priya Thamotheram, Head of Highfields Centre said: ‘The City Mayor’s apparent quest to bankrupt the Association and victimise the wider Highfields community appears to have been heightened.’

“We do not underestimate the challenge we face but in the spirit of our well established and battle hardened motto of ‘Be vigilant but move forwards!’ and for all our service users and especially those who have acknowledged the decades of our dedication and commitment to the young children in this area (as reported in the social media at the weekend), we will continue to do so to ensure the disadvantaged Highfields community is provided with the much-needed and quality services that it deserves.”

UPDATE: On the 10th July the Highfields Centre posted the following update on their facebook group:

In relation to the article from yesterday’s Leicester Mercury, we’ve set out below some factual points which hopefully provides a better understanding of the current challenges the Association and the wider Highfields community is facing:

The city mayor’s apparent quest to bankrupt the Association seems to have been heightened following the recent election and our earlier concerns about his absolute autocratic rule in this city being not subjected to democratic scrutiny is now well founded. Unlike the salaried mayoral team, our voluntary trustees are not on site and able to respond to the Council’s unreasonable demands for a considered response in under 24 hours! It seems his decision was as pre-meditated as his earlier decisions to cut funding for essential community, arts, sports, advice and guidance services at Highfields Centre, terminate our car park license and now, decided to shut down the Centre’s high quality and well established adult classes and pre-school group. True to form and without further communication with us, the Council issued their press release on 6th July, two hours before notifying us about their decision! Set out below is our response to the city mayor’s claims:

Please refer to attachment

highfieldsletter

We do not underestimate the challenge we face but in the spirit of our well established and battle hardened motto of ‘Be vigilant but move forwards!’ and for all our service users and especially those who have acknowledged the decades of our dedication and commitment to the young children in this area (as reported in the social media at the weekend), we will continue to do so to ensure the disadvantaged Highfields community is provided with the much-needed and quality services that it deserves.

For further information, please contact Highfields Centre on 0116 253 1053 and if your concern results in you taking this up with your local councillors, MP or the city mayor, please copy us into your correspondence via info@highfieldscentre.ac.uk

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