Parents anger as school clubs close at the ‘Y’

Tuesday February 7th 2023


The Penicuik YMCA-YWCA.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Parents have reacted with anger after a breakfast and after school club run by ‘the Y’ announced it would have to close due a lack of funding.

Penicuik YMCA/YWCA which runs the clubs accused Midlothian Council of ‘systematically eroding’ its funding as it announced plans to shut the clubs and put the building, on the market.

Parents took to social media to slam the decision, with previous users of the clubs saying they would have had to give up work without it.

Midlothian Council says it does not fund breakfast clubs or after school clubs, but the youth charity does receive funding from the local authority’s large community grants fund.

Councillors are currently consulting over proposals to scrap the funding in two years time as they look to plug a financial hole of more than £14million.

Dr Andrew Longmore, chairman of Penicuik YMCA/YWCA said it was with ‘great sadness’ the trustees had taken the decision after ‘over 50 years of dedicated service to the community’.

Writing an article in Midlothian View last week, ‘Closure date set for Penicuik “Y” after 50 years’ he said:

“The challenge of maintaining services, as the level of core funding support from Midlothian Council has been systematically eroded, together with the loss of revenue from the childcare service due to the pandemic, has proved impossible to overcome.

“Since December 2021 when the local authority, the local MSP and the Scottish Government were alerted to our emerging problems, we have continually sought alternative sources of funding and income, including significant loans against the value of the property with only limited success.

“With losses now unsustainable and reserves exhausted, the decision has, therefore, been taken to put the premises on the market, to repay debts and meet liabilities; and consider whether it is possible to deliver a different service model in other premises in due course.”

On social media much of the anger was directed at the council, with one parent saying

“I understand difficult choices have to be made, as funding is less, however having somewhere safe for your children to go when you choose to go back to work for any reason is vital especially in holiday time.”

Another said: “I have no positive thoughts towards the council right now.”

One young mum who had hoped to use the clubs as her children got older said: “These clubs are vital for parents who want to work and should be funded.

“Some families face having to give up jobs without the support of the clubs, they should be provided in schools across the county.”

There was also anger from families who use Penicuik Men’s Shed which has just moved into the building and now needs to fund a new home.

A council spokesperson said: “The council does not fund breakfast clubs or afterschool clubs. The Penicuik YMCA-YWCA is in receipt of a large grant from Communities Lifelong Learning and Employability (CLLE).

“Since Penicuik Y’s decision to close, we have been making contact with the families impacted to support them in finding an alternative provision.

“We are also liaising with other out of school clubs in the area to determine capacity and exploring opportunities for a new provision.”

In 2006 Midlothian Council did a swap with the Y in which it was given its current building and a cash settlement while the council took ownership of its former site in the Kirkhill area of Penicuik.

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