May 22 2013 Latest news:
by Flora Drury
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Haringey is considering selling off a number of its much-loved community centres so it can raise the £14.5million needed to bring the rest of its dilapidated stock up to scratch.
This could mean the loss of any of the buildings it owns – including the ever-popular Jacksons Lane Arts Centre in Highgate, the headquarters of Hornsey Historical Society in Crouch End and Hornsey Vale Community Centre, also in Crouch End.
The council is under pressure to find the money after it was revealed 50 per cent of Haringey’s community centres are in a “poor” or “very poor” condition, with just four of 24 properties surveyed being in “good” condition.
The problem is so widespread that the council needs £6million in the next five years to pay for urgent repairs alone.
But finding the cash has caused problems – technically many of the tenants in the 31 centres are meant to do their own repairs.
Some 20 per cent of tenants in council properties pay peppercorn rent, while 52 per cent have rent paid through council grants.
It means the portfolio, which would earn more than £700,000 on the open market in rent, brings in just more than £200,000 a year.
Council officers put a number of proposals forward in order to meet the bill – including raising rents and selling off stock to “positively contribute to borough regeneration and priorities”.
Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone said it would be a great injustice if places like Jacksons Lane were put up for sale.
“The only reason the council is even considering selling off community centres is because of their failure to look after the buildings properly in the first place,” she said.
Cllr Nigel Scott, opposition Liberal Democrat spokesman for communities on Haringey Council, added: “Haringey needs to take much better care and look after its buildings.
“Community centres are at the heart of local activities and help to keep people together.
“In difficult times the last thing we need is the sale of these buildings.”
Cllr Joe Goldberg, Labour cabinet member for finance, said: “The community buildings strategy aims to improve and protect the community offer and make the best use of council community buildings in the borough – through improving their quality, widening access to buildings and identifying regeneration opportunities where appropriate.”
Haringey Council is currently consulting with community centre tenants across the borough, with a final report due to be presented to cabinet in May.