Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Letter to The Right Hon Eric Pickles, Secretary Of State for Communities And Local Government

This is an important letter, sent by the Action Group on 20 October 2010, as it outlines, in very few words, the case for saving the Centre from closure.


Dear Secretary Of State

In the summer our Council, Hammersmith and Fulham, decided to consult with the public on their proposal to sell a number of buildings in the Borough.  The ‘first wave’ of these ‘disposals’ comprises nine buildings.  One of these is a community centre, situated in Broughton Road, London SW6.  This building had, only a few years ago, undergone complete refurbishment, at a cost to the ratepayer of some £2 million.

This Community Centre, situated as it is in the most remote part of the Borough, miles away from the main conurbations of Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush, has been a lifeline to many people for two generations.  It houses a Library, a well-equipped gym, two dance studios, a Sure-Start children’s complex, an internationally renowned pottery, stained-glass and jewellery making studios and countless other, smaller, rooms which are used for adult education classes and as offices.

The Council speaks of relocating services to other buildings, whilst ignoring the much greater benefits of having so many services under one roof.  People of all backgrounds and all ‘classes’ gather under this enormous roof, bringing a good deal of social cohesion.  It is a place of  learning, a sports facility and an area of refuge for the elderly and the very young. 

The Council claims it needs to sell the building in order to reduce its debts.  This may be true but merely selling it is, to use the Prime Minister’s phrase, “doing the easy thing”.  The Centre has been run down for years, possibly - even probably - as a pretext for selling it off.  It has been poorly and unimaginatively managed.  Gym equipment has not been properly maintained.  Potential users of its office space have been turned away.  The Centre has not been advertised properly.

Our action group, which we formed in order to fight the closure of the Centre, is trying to point out to the Council that merely selling this building is short-term thinking and that the Centre could, if re-invigorated and properly managed, bring untold benefits to the community in the longer term.

In your speech to Conference just a short while ago you reminded us all that “slash and burn is pointless and wrong” and yet this is precisely what our Council is proposing to do.  You also said that “it is time to put communities back in charge”.

We are putting forward far-reaching and imaginative ideas to the Council; to demonstrate to them the folly and short-termism of “slash and burn” whilst highlighting all the untold benefits of putting this, our community, “back in charge”.

What we are are proposing to do here is nothing short of building a model - a flagship - for the Prime Minister’s Big Society; and all of this right in his “favourite Borough”.

The Action Group would be delighted - and very grateful - if you could help us in our struggle to save this, our much loved Community Centre.

Yours sincerely


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