I shall continue to challenge the legal basis upon which the RVS (Royal Voluntary Centre) plans to sell off Hungate Centre in Pickering. The RVS took over as caretakers in the 60s not long after it was built by the Pickering community. I have had a number of meetings and exchanges with them and I have been clear that I do not believe it is theirs to sell so I am currently looking into the legal position. The centre was originally built and paid for by local people before being handed over to the WRVS, later to become RVS, to manage and look after. In March 2020 RVS announced that it was to close and be sold off, despite opposition from local people.
The centre has been an important community asset, originally provided by local residents for their own use, and has been used by a range of local groups including for yoga, pilates, bridge and art clubs as well as RVS lunches and there is no question that it should remain available to them. The RVS were custodians of the site. If it has no further use for it, It should not be sold, it should be given back to the community where it belongs. Once the pandemic is over the Hungate Centre will have an even more important role to play as people are able to get out and meet again in groups and take up all the activities that they have had to set aside during the crisis. I will continue to engage with all the stakeholders and do everything I can to ensure that it remains the important community hub that it has always been.
More than 1400 signatures have been collected in an online petition by local residents and people living further afield in the support of the centre.