Council Appoints BNP Paribas
Despite the assurance by the Leader of the Council that no decision has yet been made on whether or not to dispose of Sands End Centre, everything we read leads us to believe that they want to sell up.
Yesterday's Property Week (page 11 - see link below) reports that the Council have appointed BNP Paribas Real Estate Agents to assess other uses for Sands End Community Centre, presumably for marketing purposes. The Council have gone ahead and found a school on the edge of the Ward willing to house a token local library facility which will be staffed by volunteers; and they are busy making plans to disperse children's services across 3 London boroughs. It is true that by abandoning the Centre they may make savings on staff wages and building maintenance costs and these are significant: but the cost to the tax payer when staff join the dole queues and the vulnerable in our community end up in doctors' surgeries is also significant. Sands End Library and all Community Centre services are linked together and hundreds have come out in protest several times to demonstrate against the Council's proposals to separate them and close the Centre down: this decision would be unpopular to say the least. It is acknowledged by all that the Centre is poorly run but it has great potential as a community facility.
BNP Paribas may put a price on it and market it however they like but, according to several property developers we have consulted, the building is a nightmare for development and is likely to be mothballed and could lay vacant, festering for years. Instead of getting ready for sale and paying for yet more consultations and using all their energy in trying to justify the closure of our buildings, the Council should change tack and concentrate efforts on working together with the local community to find ways collectively to keep the Centre and build it up for the people of Sands End. It isn't an easy task and neither is it the easy option. An entrepreneurial spirit is needed as well as hard work and business brains. We believe together we could have what it takes to save Sands End Centre - it's the effort and the will on the part of the Council which is missing.