How many community centres will be able to survive long enough to support the delivery of Haringey Community Strategy? The answer is probably zero, as Haringey has adopted the potentially destructive recommendations of the Community Buildings Review.
Following 3 years of officer research, costly auditing and meetings with individual centres (which the council presented as the “start of a conversation”) - a report to cabinet was published without notification, and rushed through to Cabinet who voted it through on 14th July. They accepted the recommendations for short-term leases, the introduction of market rents and restrictions on sub-letting, thereby threatening the viability of community-run centres in council-owned buildings.
This appears to fly in the face of the council’s stated intention to work in partnership with the voluntary sector as outlined in their corporate plan. As Central Government cuts continue to erode the services the Local Authority can provide, Community Centres are well placed to step in and supplement provision. Indeed, they are a key part of the strategy. However, they cannot do this without the appropriate support and infrastructure.
If the agenda is to sell off its community buildings, the council needs to be clear about this and about how people will access the services that they have relied on for decades. Local Community Centres had planned to hold a protest at the Full Council meeting on 20th July to alert the press and wider public. This was withdrawn out of respect following the sad passing of Cllr George Meehan. However, the Community Buildings Review was never tabled as an item on Full Council meeting’s agenda... Council officers and Councillors did not deem the recommendations (and their significant community impact) as necessary to consider at Full Council.
It seems then that Haringey Community Centres – who are often working with the most vulnerable and disadvantaged – now have no further recourse to challenge the Council’s recommendations.
The newly formed Haringey Community Centres Network does not accept this way of working as democratic nor is it in the interests of our diverse communities. It is frustrating that the efforts of so many skilled centre staff and volunteers are being wasted in campaigning rather than in serving the needs of local people. We want to promote community cohesion, empowerment, and all kinds of cultural, educational, social and economic opportunities.
We call on the public and on our elected representatives to look again at what we stand to lose and support us rather than crush us in the face of adversity.
This press release is on behalf of the Haringey Community Centres Network of which the Selby Centre is a member. Included links for reference: Building a Stronger Haringey Together http://www.haringey.gov.uk/sites/haringeygovuk/files/corporate_plan_2015-18.pdf Report To Cabinet: http://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/Published/C00000118/M00007298/AI00045656/$CBRJulyCommunityBuildingsreviewMainreport.docx.pdf + Appendices: http://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/Published/C00000118/M00007298/AI00045656/AppendixACBRlistoforgsinscope.pdf http://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/Published/C00000118/M00007298/AI00045656/AppendixBCBFinalrecommendationstable.pdf http://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/Published/C00000118/M00007298/AI00045656/$AppendixCEqIAforCBRv3.doc.pdf http://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/Published/C00000118/M00007298/AI00045656/AppendixECommunityModelLeaseexample.pdf http://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/Published/C00000118/M00007298/AI00045656/AppendixFSocialValuechecklist.pdf