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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Copeland council leader's Civic Hall promise

Council leader Elaine Woodburn said Copeland is committed to work with groups that want to revive the closed-down Civic Hall.

Elaine Woodburn photo
Elaine Woodburn

Miss Woodburn has spoken out after an attack on social website Facebook, where she was heavily criticised following a protest outside of the Whitehaven venue which closed its doors on Thursday.

People asked why the council leader did not attend the protest, with some even launching personal attacks about her disability. Miss Woodburn has spoken openly about losing her leg six years ago, but said it was unfair for people to use this against her.

Speaking about why she did not attend, Miss Woodburn said it was not a council protest and was a way for people to show that they were unhappy, which she understood.

She also highlighted that she did not make the decision to close the civic, it was made unanimously by 51 councillors.

And Miss Woodburn has reiterated that she is committed to work with people on a sustainable future for the Civic Hall, which closed its doors as part of budget cuts forced upon the council by central Government.

“We have been talking to organisations and groups for 12 months,” she said. “On Wednesday I met with a group of users who went away and are working on a business plan. We are committed to meet again with them. We would happily hand it over if someone can come forward with a feasible plan.

“There’s no point in handing it over for just a month – it needs to be a sustainable.”

However, she said that when she read the personal comments about her on Facebook, she was “disgusted” and “upset”.

“It is unfair on me to make personal comments about my disability. I know what my job entails and most of the time I can put up with it. I have worked really hard to get over my disability. I have worked really hard for people to be able to judge me for my ability, not my disability.

“It was a personal attack on me and I think it really took away the shine from the protest itself, that people could stoop that low.”

She has since removed herself from the page and is even considering leaving Facebook.

She also said that a good example of how Civic Halls can be successfully run, is in Cleator Moor and Egremont, where the Freemasons and the town council took over the running.

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