Sands End Campaigners Join Huge Protest at Town Hall Tonight

Fulham centre among nine buildings to be sold off

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Campaigners fighting to save Fulham's Sands End Community Centre will join a huge public protest outside Hammersmith Town Hall tonight, Monday February 7.

The rally will take place ahead of a Cabinet meeting, beginning art 7pm which is expected to give the go ahead to the sale of nine council buildings, including the centre and Fulham Town Hall.

Rosie Borgia, chair of Save Sands End Community Centre says: "The closure of Sands End Centre will leave many people isolated and without easy access to a local library, children's and social services, an affordable gym and adult education.

" We are faced with a refusal by this administration to listen to the electorate they serve. They are deaf to reasoned argument and lacking in compassion for the less able in the community."

Other buildings which the council plans to sell include Hammersmith's Irish Centre and Palingswick House, which is earmarked for Toby Young's West London Free School and teh Village Hall community centre in Shepherd's Bush.

The council says it plans to sell the "under-used" buildings in order to help pay off its £133 million historic debt and reduce the impact of the public sector funding squeeze on its frontline services.

It says a detailed consultation was carried out over the Autumn on the proposals which resulted in a report recommending that Cabinet:

approve the sale of Fulham Town Hall, Palingswick House, the Distillery Lane centre, 58 Bulwer Street, Askham Centre and the Greswell centre;
approve that leases on Cambridge House, Barclay House and 20 Hammersmith Broadway are not renewed;
revoke the Cabinet decision of January 2009 to extend the lease of the Irish Cultural Centre so that it can be offered for sale to the sitting tenant – the Irish Cultural Centre Hammersmith Ltd.
defer the decision on 50 Commonwealth Avenue pending the outcome of the Day Opportunities review and until an alternative site is agreed for the existing occupants.

Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter says: "They are selling off invaluable community assets at a time of depressed property prices. And they are acting against the central tenet of their own government – the Big Society.

" I will be there on Monday protesting their short-sighted policies and hundreds of people, of all political stripes from all parts of our community, will be there too."

A separate report to Cabinet on 7 February recommends approval of the proposed sale of Sands End Community Centre.

Here are details from the council of the two local buildings:

Fulham Town Hall

H&F is the fourth smallest borough in London but still currently has two town halls. Fulham Town Hall is very under-used with 40% of space empty. The building requires renovation which taxpayers cannot afford in the current economic climate. Council officers recommend that selling the site provides the most likely route to preserving the building and bringing it back to life.

Fulham Town Hall could be part of a major regeneration plan for the town centre, bringing new business and vitality to the heart of Fulham.

It is recommended that services such as registrars, CCTV and parking attendants are relocated to other council buildings. It is proposed that cemeteries staff relocate to Mortlake Cemetery, where they will be on-site and better able to assist with residents’ enquiries. Housing services could easily be combined with the Fulham North Housing Office, if a decision to sell the building is made.

The council adds that of the 320 people who responded, less than half (49%) objected to the sale of Fulham Town Hall.

Sands End Community Centre

Sands End Community Centre, it says, is  also currently under-used. It houses gym facilities and adult education classes which could be re-provided nearby; the local children’s centre which could move to better facilities in Townmead Road where there is outside play space; and a local library.

The library is the least used of the six libraries in the borough, issuing only 13 items per hour at a cost of over £5 per visit and its future as a potential community facility elsewhere in the ward will be the subject of a separate consultation this summer.

In December, the council announced "exciting proposals" to secure the future of Sands End Library, by moving the library to the nearby Hurlingham and Chelsea School. This new library, which would be run predominantly by volunteers with space for activities and events, would uld save the council £206,000 a year.

In January, it was reported that if the council rubber stamps the plans on February 7, as expected, it will appoint agents Lambert Smith Hampton to sell the 19th-century Town Hall. And while the agents are exploring various options, it seems most likely that it will end up becoming a luxury hotel.

The property website also reports that BNP Paribas Real Estate has been appointed by the council to assess alternative uses for the other sites on the list to be sold, which include them Sands End Community Centre

February 1, 2011