Rename Stowford’ - Sidmouth community centre manager

STOWFORD Community Centre should be renamed to underline its appeal to the entire Sid Valley, according to its manager.

Jeff Merrett, MBE, said he wanted ‘Stowford’ taken out of the venue’s title when he addressed Sidmouth Men’s Forum last week.

Speaking on the role of the centre, completed in September, he said it should be re-dubbed Sid Valley Community Centre to appeal to the wider area.

“It’s your centre and it’s there to be used. At the moment we’re probably using it for a third of its time,” Mr Merrett told the forum.

All the members, except two, indicated they would be more likely to visit if it was renamed.

Mr Merrett subsequently told the Herald: “I wonder if the general public would be more supportive if it had a less direct name.

“I think the people of Sidmouth should be asked whether we’ve got the right name.”

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Mr Merrett added support of volunteers and centre directors, many of whom live in the Stowford area, is highly valued.

At the forum meeting, Mr Merrett said a range of groups and classes already utilised the venue, which also incorporates a multi-activity children’s centre.

He added it was used by companies for meetings and training sessions while, with a function room seating up to 200 people, it was popular for birthday parties. He said the centre’s biggest disappointment, however, was its caf� which ‘was not taking the revenue it should’.

A recruitment drive over Christmas saw six ladies come in to help to run it.

Emphasising the centre was keen to be involved in community events, Mr Merrett said: “We continue to run it as a beautiful centre and have lots of plans for the future.

“When we opened four months ago we had nothing. Now we have bookings of �400 a week. So I think we have achieved good things so far. But I feel we would like to see it booked every day.”

Mr Merrett concluded by saying it would be marvellous if the centre had someone to run its website and its publicity.

Community centre’s year of promise. Turn to page 22.