Bath Place Community Venture’s operations manager Clayton Denwood has launched a scathing attack on county councillors who decided to sell its former site to a private developer.
Hopes of building a new community centre on the site of the former All Saints Primary School were dashed last month when Warwickshire County Council’s cabinet made its choice.
And Mr Denwood has branded the decision “profoundly unfair” and said it speaks of a “deep disregard for local people, the important tradition of the voluntary sector and also, public heritage and history”.
In an open letter to the council’s leader Cllr Izzi Seccombe and deputy leader Cllr Alan Cockburn, Mr Denwood has said: “The truth is there are not a lot of other local organisations that have the capacity and potential to attract key social resources, especially in this time of public financial shortfall.
“It seems odd to have to argue this point but 40 years of charitable community endeavour is not something to carelessly throw on the bonfire. I’m surprised that, as Conservatives, you wouldn’t realise that instinctively.”
Mr Denwood said that through the proposed new centre Bath Place was aiming to reinstate its ability to provide an independent service for disadvantage, community self-help and well-being and he has pointed out the need for mental health and addiction recovery services, affordable childcare, poverty and exclusion support and nutrition in the south of Leamington.
He said: “How a Council could turn its back on such a project is a mystery that many will struggle to understand.”
In response, Cllr Alan Cockburn said he took issue with the suggestion the council has turned its back on Bath Place saying it had supported the venture at various premises including making a financial investment to make one building suitable for purpose.
Cllr Cockburn added: “It is important to make it very clear that the council has retained this facility for a community purpose and not simply sold the plot to the commercial sector. All bids were subjected to rigorous financial scrutiny and robust examination of their deliverability and social value. Few other schemes have been subjected to such a level of scrutiny and deliberation before the council came to a decision.
“The successful bid will provide specialist housing with care for residents with physical and learning disabilities. It will meet an identified need and will benefit vulnerable residents by providing appropriate care accommodation.”