Rothwell Labour councillors bring Deputy council leader to Windmill

Cllrs Karen Bruce and David Nagle with young people at Windmill Youth Club RothwellLast week I called a meeting about the future of Windmill Youth Centre, I got Cllr Peter Gruen, Deputy Leader of Council and officers to meet with some of the users of the centre including some young people who go to the ‘youthy’, management committee members, Rothwell Judo Club and the Gateway Club for people with special needs. Myself and ward colleague Cllr David Nagle thought it was very important that the person ultimately responsible for decision making (as part of his portfolio as executive board member) for our Windmill Centre should come and listen to what users had to say.

I thought it was an interesting and productive meeting and great to have got people from  groups who use the centre to come together, it’s amazing how much more can be achieved when everyone puts their heads together! We discussed ways in which we could get more groups and people to use the centre.

We felt the centre needs more promotion, including a banner similar to that at Blackburn Hall to advertise that the centre is for hire and getting the information out there through all the available channels. The booking system could also certainly be improved. It was felt that a stumbling block to getting people and groups using the centre is that everyone sees Windmill as a youth club, when in fact it is a community centre open for any group to use and even to hire for children’s parties and the like!

Officers were keen to stress what the alternatives might be and that closure would only be a last resort. They presented the idea of handing the running of the building to the community, which is one for us to consider. I feel that there may not be a need for the community to take this on and that it can continue to be council run if we all put our heads together to drive, in particular, daytime usage up.

I’m helping a group in Rothwell move their project forward for a new skatepark for Rothwell, in the meantime they are using upstairs in the Rothwell Windmill centre for skateboarding. Others such as the Rothwell Judo Club, are based at Windmill and the Gateway Club, for people with special needs, would be able to attract more users to the centre if there was better access for people with special needs. This was an important point and one which has to be addressed.

An idea was put forward from Wendy Doyle of Rothwell food bank to base the food bank at Windmill and to run breakfast and luncheon clubs as part of the package.

The officers confirmed that a sizeable amount of money had already been saved by combining caretaking costs of Windmill, Blackburn Hall and the Rothwell council offices (one stop centre), which will count towards the savings needed.

I’ve been out and about with the petition for Windmill and local people are bubbling with ideas so watch this space, and if you have an idea get in touch!

In the meantime, the officers have given me some feedback on the meeting, saying the discussions were positive and will help shape options for the future.

I was pleased that Cllr Peter Gruen came along at my request and I felt he was positive and listened to what we all had to say. I’m optimistic that the right solution can be found to keep our ‘youthy’ and also bring in more of the community to the centre by everyone pulling together and staying positive.

You can support our campaign to save the Windmill centre here

You can download a paper copy of the petition to gather signatures for the campaign here

Thanks everyone for your tremendous support, we’ve shown we can do it before in Rothwell like when the community came together to save our fire station and Dolphin Manor care home and we can do it for Windmill!

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