When I found out that the much loved Windmill Youth Club is to be consulted on for closure, I immediately decided to take action to fight it and started a petition. It was under threat once before in 2014/15 and we fought hard and saved it together then. Times are tougher now, but we will fight even harder to save this vital local facility. It will be much harder this time for three reasons:
- Even before Covid-19 Leeds City Council’s budget had been cut in half. Councils rely on central government money to pay for most local services so this has had a devastating impact. The worst cuts happened under the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government so by now there are only essential local services left to cut.
- This is even worse because although the government has talked about providing money to pay for the extra Covid-19 spending in Leeds it hasn’t provided even what has already been spent. Lockdown means many of the council’s usual ways of making money such parking and entrance fees etc have disappeared.
- We don’t have any Labour councillors in Leeds to argue our case. Last time we succeeded in stopping the closure of Windmill because of the massive support by local people and critically me and former councillor David Nagle were able to work positively with the council’s leadership to find an alternative to closing. So far our Liberal Democrat councillors have just mischievously blamed the council for the cuts rather than the Conservative government who everyone else knows is to blame.
I am working on ideas to save Windmill but to start with I need your help to get as many signatures as possible on our petition. It is essential that I can show how well supported Windmill is. The campaign is supported widely in our community, including Rothwell Tenants and Residents Association, users of the youth club and The Gateway Club. (Read more below).
Windmill youth club is well-loved in Rothwell and local people have fond memories through the generations of attending. But most importantly, the young people who attend love it and feel an ownership and belonging with the building that it’s their space in Rothwell.
Windmill centre is also the long time home to the Gateway Club, which meets every Wednesday at Rothwell Youth Club for adults of all ages with learning disabilities to reduce social isolation.
The report (from page 145) to executive board which is recommending the consultation on closure, says that users can be offered a practical alternative accommodation, but holding sessions elsewhere can’t replace their long-standing home of Windmill.
We will fight this all the way.