Help us save the Ardagh centre

April 26 2014

FRIENDS of Horfield Common (FOHC) are calling on the community to get involved with securing the future of its much-loved venue, the Ardagh.

April 26 2014

FRIENDS of Horfield Common (FOHC) are calling on the community to get involved with securing the future of its much-loved venue, the Ardagh. 

The idea of applying for a transfer, which will involve the council handing over responsibility of the centre to a community group, was put forward by FOHC at a recent meeting held at the Quakers' Meeting House on Gloucester Road.

They say it is "essential" if the community wants to see the site improve and come back to life.

A Community Asset Transfer is the leasing of properties by the council to voluntary and community organisations often at a reduced or minimal rent.

FOHC say that by allowing interested parties to manage the Ardagh, it will help empower the local community, giving them more responsibility.

Bristol City Council will still own the property, but day-to-day management will be handed over to a community group who can show they have the ability to run a project for local benefit.

The council has responded "positively" to the idea, offering "full support" to any interested party.

Sam Thomson, chair of FOHC, said: "The Ardagh is an integral part of the common and is very valuable. If we don't do anything, we could lose it.

"The more people we can get involved, the more chance we have of moving it forward from just being an idea.

She added: "It will be hard work, and it will take determination, but it will be worth it."

However, the council need to first improve the standard of the Ardagh in order to facilitate the transfer.

The meeting about applying for an asset transfer is subsequent to the council's recent controversial closure and re-opening of the building after a safety officer deemed the building's fire warning system "inadequate".

FOHC believe that the Ardagh has fallen through the cracks over the past few decades, and has not been seen as a priority by the council. But the council has responded robustly, saying that there has been no history of neglect.

Various groups use the building on a regular basis, including users of the bowling green and tennis courts, a weekly toddler group, and a support group for disabled children.

Over the next 18 months, FOHC hope to establish a community group who could potentially manage the centre.

A business plan will then be created, with ideas about generating long-term funding for the Ardagh.

Similar projects have included the St Werburghs Community Centre, which received £1 million funding after securing an asset transfer.

Ideas for the Ardagh include a flexible meeting place, a community café and bar, and a multi-use sports and leisure facility. Jobs will be created, and more social events will be held, FOHC say.

FOHC welcome anyone who would like to become part of this process. To get involved in the project, whether it is to be kept informed of plans, to contribute as a special interest group, or to join a steering group, email: friendsofhorfieldcommon1@gmail.com or telephone: 0117 9426580.

Ardagh, Horfield Common