It's officially open! After years of effort, lots of pushing and persuasion, Sherwood's new TN2 Community Centre opened this afternoon. I recall persuading KCC's Director of Social Services that we should match fund the Borough Council to a total of £600,ooo to build an extra floor on top of the largely disused YMCA Sports Centre in Greggs Wood Road, to replace the old Sherwood Community Centre, which has now been demolished by Town and Country Housing Association to make way for thirty brand new affordable flats.
I fought passionately to ensure that the state of the art facility was run by local people rather than "the usual suspects" - we set up a Community Trust and have supported the locals in putting together a business plan, bidding for funding and being trained in book keeping, chairing meetings, taking minutes and learning how to work together to make their voice heard. If the Government is looking for real 'localism in action', then they should come to Sherwood and see how it can work in practice.
And now it's a reality - the TN2 Centre is at last officially open for business. Leader of the Borough Council Roy Bullock, MP Greg Clark and I along with around three hundred local Sherwood residents watched two local children cut the ribbon and declare the new TN2 Centre open. And as I said to the crowd when they asked me to speak "...this isn't about the Borough Council; it's not about the County Council. It's about you - the people of Sherwood. It's been the forgotten area of Tunbridge Wells for too long. Now you've found your voice and are being listened to, we have to keep pushing to make sure Sherwood gets its fair share in the future."