THRISK and Malton MP has said Pickering’s Hungate Centre must be kept for community.

 Kevin Hollinrake, said he will fight tooth and nail to ensure Hungate Centre in Pickering is retained for use by local organisations and groups ahead of a crunch meeting this evening (Wednesday).

The centre was originally built and paid for by local people before being handed over to the WRVS, later to become RVS (Royal Voluntary Service) to manage and look after. In March 2020 RVS announced that it was to close and be sold off, despite opposition from local people.

Mr Hollinrake said “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 do everything I can to ensure that it remains the important community hub that it has always been”.

Mr Hollinrake is meeting with RVS and other stakeholders virtually this week to make his position clear.

Meanwhile, an extraordinary full council meeting of Ryedale District Council is meeting on Wednesday, January 27, to consider the future of the Hungate Centre in Pickering. Councillors are being asked to support the purchase outright, or potentially in a partnership, based on preserving the Centre for use by the community.

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.