The Our Tottenham network supports and encourages community-led community centres. Some sites are already developing community plans for their community centres, others have already created them e.g. Wards Corner (proposed to be both a venue for market traders and community activities).
A number of people recently held a very well attended ‘celebrating and defending our community centres session’, as part of the Our Tottenham, Community Empowerment Week. At this meeting it was agreed to explore the establishment of a Tottenham wide network to support the development of community centres in the area including those under threat.
Some of the Community Centres in Tottenham
Lord Morrison Hall
Chestnuts Community Centre
Lordship Rec Hub
Day-Mer/North London Community House
Lord Morrison Hall: Community Centre in Scales Road, Tottenham since the 70′s and is now run by Afro International. The council has decided not to renew the 20 year lease that is ending in February and so far seems determined to reject any application, however good, to renew it. The centre held a meeting in December to oppose the repossession attended by over 150 people, reflecting the amount of support for such community spaces. The group are taking legal advice and are planning a legal campaign against the council.
Wards Corner Coalition: This area around the former department store on the corner of the High Road and Seven Sisters Rd has been deliberately neglected by the council and landlords for years. In 2003 the council brought in and supported the developer Grainger with public funds. Their plan is to evict the vibrant indoor mainly latin-american market and the family-run shops in the area, demolish and rebuild with 100% private flats above a development of high street chain stores replacing the existing market. The group organised 3 massive public meetings and a 500-strong hands around the site protest. They also successfully challenged the developers in court (setting a historic precedent) as theyd failed to consider equalities issues in the original plan. The developers resubmitted a new plan which was approved by the council and the group are fundraising for costs towards the second legal challenge against the council and developer. The group, including residents and traders, have developed their own Community Plan which would retain the historic building, renew the whole area, ensure the wishes of traders and residents and offer a chance to show how distinctive and different Tottenham is.
Welbourne Centre: After a long campaign, including a march, and a costly legal battle, the well-used community centre run by the local african-caribbean community for 20 years, was repossessed by the council this month. There were plans to occupy but the council boarded the place up before anything could happen. Welbourne prepared a business plan to keep it open but this was rejected by the council, who failed to listen to the community group. The group will continue to campaign for the Centre despite it being boarded up, to share their experience, and campaign for the importance of all such community centres to ensure no more are closed. [Update: In the west of the borough there are also possible threats to close the Jackson’s Lane Arts Centre, Hornsey Historical Society HQ and the Hornsey Vale Community Centre]
Chestnut Community Centre: Is under threat of repossession. They are in process of taking council to court, council in turn has requested more time to prepare their case. Council do not want to renew lease to current management. The well-used Centre has been in hands of community for 24 years and the group are not prepared to let it end now. Campaign to retain community-run centre: http://www.chestnutspeople.com/
North London Community House: This thriving venue, where we held our founding conference, is not under threat. It’s a social centre set up and run by Turkish and Kurdish activists as a community space for social/political organising. 20 years ago the activists purchased the empty former postal sorting office and converted/refurbished it themselves.
Tottenham Chances A former British Legion club building on the High Rd faced closure and sell off, but some members held fast and turned it into a thriving independent arts centre. They now have plans to greatly expand the activities & facilities, and interact positively with the local area.
Selby Centre Set up in 1992 in a former school building, they are a multi-purpose community and social enterprise centre led by the community and third sector organisations – a rich mix primarily from BME, refugee and other historically excluded communities in Tottenham, Haringey, North London and beyond. The site is 150,000 square feet, with offices, meeting rooms, training facilities, sports and events halls and a large car park. They are seeking an extended lease from the Council.