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'Great regret' as community hub is forced to close its doors

PUBLISHED: 12:40 07 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:00 07 February 2020

The Bowthorpe Community Hub has closed. Photo: Bill Smith

The Bowthorpe Community Hub has closed. Photo: Bill Smith

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A hub which offered a string of services to people in part of Norwich has closed its doors, blaming the loss of a key contract to keep people's gardens tidy for its demise.

Veterans attended meetings at Bowthorpe Community Hub, Norwich. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodVeterans attended meetings at Bowthorpe Community Hub, Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

The Grow Organisation, Mow and Grow and the Bowthorpe Community Hub shut for the final time last week.

Last September, this newspaper reported how the social enterprise was fighting for its future after Norwich City Council ended a contract with Mow and Grow which had been in place for more than a decade.

That contract had seen the social enterprise maintain gardens for tenants.

But the not-for-profit organisation was left £50,000 worse off when the city council decided not to re-tender the contract.

Alex Cosgrove, the organisation's chief executive, had appealed for people to help the organisation survive by using its gardening service.

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It also looked to expand its wellbeing services, which already included a popular drop-in session for army veterans.

However, the social enterprise permanently closed its doors last week, bringing the services which it offered to an end.

A statement posted on its Facebook page read: "With great regret, The Grow Organisation, Mow and Grow and the Bowthorpe Community Hub have now closed.

"The loss of a critical local gardening contract and the lack of funding support has meant it has not been possible to continue providing the services that we know are so urgently needed for community and individual wellbeing in Bowthorpe and the wider city of Norwich.

"We are immensely proud of what we have achieved and would like to thank our supporters for their tireless enthusiasm and passion over the years."

The veterans group, which regularly met at the hub, have been offered a meeting space at the East of England Funeral Services, based at the Bowthorpe shopping centre, for the time being, at least.

The building which housed the hub, at Bowthorpe Hall Road, belongs to Norfolk County Council.

A county council spokeswoman said: "We are now reviewing options around the property, including whether it is required to deliver Norfolk County Council services."

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