Chestnuts People step up campaign to retain centre as a community-led resource

Latest update (see article in Haringey Independent below) on Chestnuts Community Centre where user groups are stepping up the campaign to retain and run the centre as a community-led resource as wanted by local people and user-groups.

Plus next consultation event Tuesday 20th January 2015, at 6.30pm. Come along and share your ideas about how and what you would like to see at Chestnuts Centre and how it should be run. Please attend even if you came to the first event, or come and join us for the first time. We will build on the work we have already done. All people welcome! Hot refreshments will be available.

On behalf of Chestnuts People 7th January 2015, Haringey Independent
Chestnuts Community Centre management refuse to hand over keys

The battle over a community centre continues after Haringey Council officers were refused access to the building. The management of Chestnuts Community Centre in Seven Sisters was due to return the centre to council control on December 31 – but refused to hand over the keys.

A group of centre users, Chestnuts People, has previously raised concerns that the council plans to put the running of the centre out to tender rather than allow it to remain under community control. The council has pointed to poor maintenance, rent arrears and noise complaints as reasons for ending the lease of the current management.

It has appointed South Tottenham charity The Bridge Renewal Trust as interim manager for a period of one year, after a court ruled in July last year that the management should return the keys. In a letter to Haringey Council, Gina Osbourne, writing on behalf of the Chestnuts Community Centre, said: “We are extremely disappointed with the way that Haringey Council has handled the Chestnuts Community Centre situation.

“It has not been constructive and has not taken account of the needs of current users and the local community. “After careful consideration and under legal advice we have reluctantly taken the decision to keep possession of the keys of the community centre building.”

She added: “We welcome your response and look forward to open and honest discussions about the future of this valuable community asset, to move forward constructively and create a future for this centre that is community-led and inclusive.”

According to the court order, the centre’s management must now pay a daily rate of £77.53 until possession is handed over to the council. The management says it will allow the council’s contractors to carry out work on the building.

A Haringey Council spokesman said: “We’re committed to improving Chestnuts Community Centre into a modern arts and culture hub with better space and facilities for the voluntary groups that use it. “Unfortunately, following poor maintenance leaving the building with an £80,000 repair bill, rent arrears of nearly £50,000 and persistent noise complaints from local residents, we were left with no choice but to terminate the lease of the current management committee at the end of last year.

“Following this, a judge ruled that the committee should return the keys at the end of the year, and we are very disappointed that they have refused to comply with this instruction from the court. We are now considering our next steps. “It would not be fair to the vast majority of the groups who use the centre and those who responsibly manage other community buildings in our borough to ignore these issues. “We will continue to consult with centre users and the wider community about what improvements they would like to see, and work to minimise disruption to the groups whose clubs, activities and meetings are central to our ambitions.”

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