THERE has been an excellent response to the petition launched in Laurencekirk to “save” the Mearns Community Centre. The petition was started because of fears that once the new Mearns Academy is up and running, Aberdeenshire Council will seek to deliver their “community” obligations from the new building and that the existing building will be closed and sold off.
Petition organiser Helen Reid is considering closing the petition within the next week and presenting it to the council and she hopes that by the time she does, it will contain a massive 1,000 signatures.
Helen said: “The petition is doing really well. I put out an initial 15 sheets out to various businesses and public places in and around Laurencekirk. The response have been very good with some places, such as the chemist, having asked for a second then a third sheet.”
Helen is in charge of the Out of School Club and attends the Ladies Club and the Thursday Morning Coffee Group, all of whom use the centre, so is in a position to see just how well the existing centre is used.
“We are calling for the exisiting centre to remain open. The threat is that when the new school opens, community education will move there and that the centre will close.
“I understand that the community facilities at the new school would not be as large as we currently enjoy taking the community centre and the cabins at the back together.
“The existing community centre is very well used and established. Instead of losing places like that the council should be retaining them. That is what the people feel.
“I hope the council will listen to what the people are saying and respect their wishes.
“The existing centre is very central and older people can walk to it, but the would not be able to walk a mile out to the new school. Transporting people out to the new school has been mentioned, but that is surely nonsense given the cost of fuel.
“We have 40 children in the Out of School Club. They meet at the community centre and we walk them the short distance to the primary school. If the meeting place was at the new academy we would have to put on transport which would have to be paid for by the parents.
“Many parents would not be able to afford it and the club would be in jeopardy.
“I didn’t start the petition, public opinion did. I had so many people say to me that we can’t let this happen.”
Aberdeenshire Council are holding further consultation in the St Laurence Hall on Wednesday next week 2-4 and 6-8pm and Helen hopes the public turn out to express their views.
“I hope the council are really prepared to listen and not just pay lip service to consultation.We are all delighted that we are getting a new school, but we all deserve facilities which are accessible to us.”