Upton Centre statement

22 January 2015 in Council and democracy
The Upton Centre was closed on Friday 19 December after specialist engineers advised that the boilers were no longer compliant and the heating system could not be used.

Following the closure, a review of the building has been carried out by independent surveyors and engineers who have established that a significant amount of work would be needed to bring the centre back in to use in the short term, including an overhaul of the heating system as well as a complete rewiring of the electrical system.

Works which would extend the life of the centre by 12 to 24 months are estimated to cost £750,000. Refurbishment to the whole building, which would make it accessible and fit for community use for an additional 15 to 20 years would be in the region of £3.5million. 

Since April 2011 we have spent in excess £200,000 on running and maintaining the centre.

It is clear that the centre will now remain closed for the foreseeable future. Once the full report on the state of the centre is available, the mayor and cabinet will be asked to decide on the best and most cost effective course of action, considering the government’s commitment to long-term spending cuts, to take for community provision within the Plaistow area.

Since the closure of the Upton Centre our priority has been to provide assistance to user groups at the centre as well as parents and guardians relying on childcare, we are writing to those we can reach.

We have worked extensively with the 16 groups who used the centre. We have provided access to gather belongs when requested and we have assisted in finding alternative accommodation in the short term. Eleven groups were helped to find locations within the Plaistow area in early January, and we are continuing to offer assistance to those considering placements outside of the area.

For the past three years we have been discussing alternative venues with the pre-school based at the centre. Since the site’s closure in December officers have identified, facilitated and attended visits to five alternative locations suitable for a childcare setting with the manager and committee members. It is now up to the trustees of the business to decide which location suits their needs.

Councillor Ken Clark, cabinet member for building community and public affairs, said: “The Upton Centre is based in a former Victorian school with a range of historic maintenance issues, which have accumulated over many decades.

“Understandably the unplanned closure of the centre last month has caused much disruption to the centre’s users and the council has been making every effort possible to find suitable alternative accommodation for the users and the nursery.

“Our priority has always been residents, including parents and guardians, and our officers have been working hard to find a solution with the nursery. It is disappointing that now certain members of the community are choosing to stage a protest when we have been transparent in our explanations and providing regular updates to all concerned.

“The council now has to consider the options for the future of the centre and community provision in Plaistow, while taking on board some of the heaviest cuts in funding from central government.”