We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers. This one from Ventnor resident and former county councillor, Harry Rees regarding the issues surrounding the Riverside Centre in Newport (it was addressed to the County Press editor, but copied to publish with On The Wight too). Ed
Having read the recent letters you published regarding the Riverside Centre and listening to the Isle of Wight Council Leader’s views on IW Radio I felt compelled to write, as a former Director and Trustee of the Riverside Centre, to register my concerns.
The centre has been in existence for almost 30 years and during that time it has developed into a multifunctional unit meeting the needs of some of the most vulnerable Isle of Wight residents, disabled and otherwise.
An integral part in the future health provision
The demand for such services continues to grow year on year. The Centre now forms an integral part in the future health provision for Islanders. Contracts are already operating with the Isle of Wight Hospital Trust.
Cllr Pugh states that the Council want to get back to basics – i.e. a centre for the disabled. He fails to comprehend how the demands and times have changed.
The Trustees have the responsibility of ensuring the Centre is financially viable.
Grants are diminishing
Over the years the General Manager and his staff have accessed thousands of pounds in grants – grants that are diminishing and as a consequence other avenues of finance have to be found. Such funding must, however, not impinge on the core activities of the centre.
Mr Pugh questioned the validity of the Newport Parish Council having its Office at the Centre – the Island’s MP also has his Office there. Both of which generate revenue for the Centre and are easily accessible for the public to visit. I have been advised that their presence at the Centre does not affect or detract from the services the centre provides.
Built with donations from the community
Whilst on the subject of finance one should also remember how the Centre came into being. Your paper [County Press] played a leading role in raising funds for the Centre to be built. From memory I believe some £250K was raised for Phase 1 & 2, £500K for Phase 3 and £100K+ for Phase 4.
The funding sources were wide and varied by example £100K from the IWRAF Association. I would ask the Leader and the Isle of Wight Council to think very carefully as for what their actions are causing. i.e.currently undermining the role of the Trustees, its Management Team and last but not least the providers and users of such services. Do not let them become political pawns.
In closing, and in defence of the Trustees, look at what has been achieved. The Centre has received numerous awards for the services they provide – Certificates proudly on display at the Centre.
They include European Social Firm of the Year (for employment of Disabled People), Queens Award for Voluntary Services. Countless Disability, Equality and Social Integration awards.
A General Manager who was awarded the OBE for his services to our community. Mr Pugh please leave well alone.