A Whitecrook afterschool care group has said ‘it won’t go without a fight’ after it was revealed that the community centre it operates out of is set to close for good.

The G81 Kids Club received a letter on January 24 from West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) stating that its hub, Clydebank East Community Centre, will permanently shut on March 29.

The privately-run service currently takes care of around 34 children from Our Holy Redeemer Primary School, Whitecrook Primary School, and St Eunan's Primary School. 

Nicole Wilson, one of the club’s owners, told the Post she is “heartbroken” by this decision and that the group has been left with two options, find a new venue within eight weeks or close.

Clydebank Post: [Left to right]: Nicole Wilson and Jean Norwood, founders of G81 Kids Club in Whitecrook[Left to right]: Nicole Wilson and Jean Norwood, founders of G81 Kids Club in Whitecrook (Image: Newsquest Staff)She said: “The bit that gets me is that the council have said they are doing this to save money whilst still providing vital services, but what about this service? Is it not vital?

“In the letter the council sent to us we were told they are opening a big fancy facility up in Faifley but that doesn’t benefit the kids of Whitecrook.

“This centre has been up for closure numerous times but this is the first year where it has got to this stage.

“The last time we spoke to them [WDC] we told them ‘If this goes ahead you need to give us plenty of notice so we can tell these parents or try and find an alternative building’ and now they’ve given us eight weeks to sort it all out.

“We will have to jump through hoops, it’s not just as easy as moving. We would have to get approved by the Care Inspectorate as well as have the new building checked over by the fire chief.

“This group is open to all the kids in Whitecrook, they can’t shut down a community facility that is desperately needed for working parents.”

In the letter seen by the Post, WDC notes that the decision to close Clydebank East follows a review of seven community facilities across the local authority.

Options for each included Community Asset Transfer, making lease arrangements for the property, investigating alternative uses or potentially marketing for sale.

The review was carried out as part of the council’s budget setting in March 2023 where councillors were asked to approve money-saving options to plug a £21 million budget gap.

The letter goes on to add that two centres are now being leased by community groups with leases for a further two centres to groups in progress however there have been “no community expressions of interest made to date for the three remaining centres”; Clydebank East, Skypoint in Faifley, and Bowling.

Nicole explained that the G81 Kids Club would be interested in taking over the building however the council said that due to the group being a business, it is not eligible for a community lease or asset transfer.

Nicole added: “We’ve done our best to keep this going as much as we can, even when the previous owner wanted to give up, this is just devastating.

“I’m focusing so much on what is going to happen rather than coming in here and enjoying my time with the children.

“We take care of 34 children but this can fluctuate during the holidays. There are essentially 30-odd sets of parents who don’t know what they’re going to do with their children on April 1.

“We’ve tried a couple of other venues including Awestruck Academy, Centre 81, Clydebank Sports Hub, and St Margaret’s Church Hall.

“Afterschool care is a logistical thing. Dalmuir schools wouldn’t pick up from here because of the logistics of getting the kids here.

“There needs to be an afterschool care group in this area. We came here in 2001, and we’ve worked in this community for decades.

“It is breaking my heart, these children and their parents need this. Whether it’s here or somewhere else we will fight to keep this group going.”

A WDC spokesperson said: “The review of community facilities was agreed as part of the council’s budget setting in March 2023 in response to a £21million funding gap.

“Community groups using impacted centres have been regularly updated, including being given information on community asset transfer, and we continue to offer support to secure alternative premises.

“As a business, G81 Kids Club is not eligible for a community lease or asset transfer.”