The Centre’s owners, the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), have been accused of running Riverside down and ignoring community wishes for its future. If Riverside is sold to the private sector, the RVS will benefit from what they describe as the “£1m refurbishment” in public funds, which was spent on converting the former parish vicarage into a state-of-the-art community centre.
The parish lost its original community centre, the parish hall off Eign Road, in the early 1990s, when it was sold for development by St James Church. In 2000 the RVS launched an ambitious plan to provide a purpose-built focus for adult and community learning. Herefordshire Primary Care Trust, Herefordshire Council Social Services and Bartonsham and St James' Community Association all played their part in the visionary new plan.
In 2005 RVS reported the completion of their “£1 million refurbishment of the former Vicarage as our Riverside Community Learning Centre, part-funded by the local Learning and Skills Council. New facilities include a community café, meeting rooms and day-care services.”
Now that’s all gone and the building stands empty and forlorn and rumours that the RVS are keen on selling to a private sector firm have angered residents.
The RVS website continues to advertise the Riverside Centre opening hours, but don’t try their telephone number - unless you’ve got upwards of £600,000 to spend.
Find out more about the history of the old Vicarage building.