Sands End Action Group Fight to Save Services

Compromise solution with developer may save centre

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The Action Group fighting to save Fulham's Sands End Community Centre say they are disappointed by the council's decision to sell the centre, but far from giving up on their campaign.

On Monday February 7, Hammersmith and Fulham council cabinet gave its approval to plans to sell off the centre along with Fulham Town Hall and the Greswell Centre, currently home to HAFAD - Hammersmith and Fulham Action on Disability.

The decision to rubber stamp plans to sell off eight "under-used" buildings in order to help pay off debts was made despite a large public protest outside the town hall.

Rosie Borgia, chair of Sands End Community CentreAction Group says: " We witnessed the rubber stamping of a decision taken long ago by a Council alarmingly out of touch with the needs of those they serve.   It was a sad day for democracy and the people of Sands End will never forgive or forget the injustice of the decision they made. 

" Unlike the Council, the Action Group have not given up on Sands End Centre; rather they have been spurred on by the injustice and will do all they can to keep it for the community."

The council says its decision was made after a public consultation carried out last autumn, and claims that if the Sands End Centre is not sold, services would have to close.

Its report on the centre says: " The centre has been under-used for many years and is expensive to run. It hosts a range of council (and other) services and there has been an extended consultation on proposals to relocate these services within the area. This has resulted in 75% of the 549 respondents opposing the proposal.

" However, given the council’s budget position and its preference to protect spending on frontline services rather than buildings, Cabinet has approved the sale and the relocation of the library and adult education to a new building at the front of the Hurlingham and Chelsea school site on nearby Peterborough Road.

" Extensive discussions with the local community have resulted in a proposal to relocate the children’s centre to the nearby Sands End Playhouse and for a local parents group to be commissioned to run the centre.

" Alternative gym facilities are available at Club Energie Fitness in the Piper Building at comparable rates as currently available but with far superior access and facilities. All services will be relocated before the Centre is closed."

Residents’ services cabinet member, Cllr Greg Smith says: " We understand the strength of feeling from residents who currently use the Sands End centre and who don’t want to move, but we have no option but to make the difficult decisions required to set a balanced budget.

" It makes no sense to maintain a building, if we can’t afford to run the services in it."

Rosie responds: " The Action Group is exploring all options for keeping the Centre for the community and is in discussions with a property developer who would be interested in buying the building and leasing the ground floor back to the community. 

" Although a compromise solution, It could be an exciting project and we would hope at least to keep some services at the Centre this way."

February 8, 2011