We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with readers. This one from Newport resident Steve Goodman. Ed
At last week’s full council meeting I asked why our well-paid Chief Executive (and suddenly imposed Riverside Centre booking clerk), backed by an expensive legal department, falsely stated that the council cannot authorize variations from the Riverside lease. The council leader replied without explaining why that statement was made, and went on to make some puzzling & alarming statements of his own.
Perhaps he could tell us how making the Chief Executive responsible for bookings fits with what he said about the council being concerned to ensure ‘value for money’ use of resources?
It would also be helpful to hear why his view on the commercial use of the Centre seems not to apply to other council-subsidised facilities. The Heights competes with West Wight and Ryde voluntary swimming pools and countless private fitness providers; the Medina Theatre competes against Shanklin Community Theatre, the Apollo and other community groups. Even Council Chambers can be hired! Why is the policy different for the Riverside?
It is also unclear how stopping bookings or asking some tenants to leave will increase the Centre’s viability. For example if the MP’s office moved out how would the Centre be allowed to generate the income to replace that loss of revenue?
As the leader also talked about disabled people and groups being deprived of opportunities, perhaps it would be helpful if a list could be provided of what activities have not taken place because of ’commercial bookings’ (another question he failed to answer at the meeting).
Perhaps he could also tell us what proportion of ‘commercial’ bookings occur at the Centre compared with community usage.
County Press back issues suggest that this seems to be the latest attack in a co-ordinated campaign to undermine the role the Centre plays in the local community: allegations the Centre owed the Council £1/2 million, threats to increase the rent, Quay Advocacy and contract dispute – the list goes on.
I believe there should be public scrutiny of all these matters and, if the Council wants to be seen to be open and transparent, they would want this too.
Steven Goodman, Newport.