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August 13, 2008

Community fight to save local family resource

The Broxburn Family Centre has played a vital role over the years in supporting local families and their children. When the Centre’s landlords gave them notice to quit because they wanted to build flats on the site, it provoked an angry response from the Centre’s users and from across all sections of the community

Debbie Spalding, West Lothian Courier

A campaign to save a valuable community resource from housing developers is gathering momentum. Staff from Broxburn Family Centre were shocked to learn their landlords have applied for planning permission to replace it with flats.

But since the news broke the local community, politicians and community organisations from across West Lothian have been speaking out in support of the centre. And some 200 letters of objection have now been lodged with West Lothian Council’s planning department backing the campaign.

The centre’s manager, Raymond Branton, said London-based landlords Local Shopping Reit PLC, dropped the bombshell three weeks ago that plans were being lodged to build a single block of flats on the site. “The response has been very encouraging,” said Raymond. “Everyone has been up in arms over the potential loss of a facility which helps so many people in communities across the district.

“Neighbours, people whose children used to come here years ago, adults who remember the centre from when they were children and many people that we have helped over the years, as well as current users, have all been calling to ask how they can help. “All of us at the centre would like to thank everyone who has come out in support to help counter this threat. “The organisation’s future is now in the hands of the council’s development control committee who will decide on this planning application.”

Councillor Morrice said he is delighted with the local response to the centre’s campaign. He added: “The centre provides a much used and valued service to local children, families and adult learners and it would be a complete tragedy to lose it. “The strength of feeling locally on this issue is high and this is demonstrated in the fact that over 200 individuals have sent in letters of objection to the council’s planners. “We can only now hope that the planning committee sees sense and knocks back the application by the landlord.”