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Battlelines drawn for control of community association

PUBLISHED: 14:48 20 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:38 07 September 2010

Miles Seaman, Geoff Berridge, Virginia Berridge and Pauline Cheeseman

Miles Seaman, Geoff Berridge, Virginia Berridge and Pauline Cheeseman

A SECOND group has emerged from the ashes of the West Hampstead Community Association and will bid to reopen the much-missed hub.The organisation, which has yet to be named, will compete with the Mill Lane Neighbourhood Centre for the contract from Camden Council to run the association.Based in Mill Lane,

A SECOND group has emerged from the ashes of the West Hampstead Community Association and will bid to reopen the much-missed hub.The organisation, which has yet to be named, will compete with the Mill Lane Neighbourhood Centre for the contract from Camden Council to run the association.Based in Mill Lane, the association ran up debts of £22,000 after being duped into a con to buy photocopiers and was forced to go into voluntary liquidation and close down in May.The new organisation has been formed from groups who used the community hall, including West Hampstead Amenities and Transport (What), Sure Start and the Fordwych Nursery as well as members of the community who want to see the centre up and running again.A member of the new group’s steering committee, Pauline Cheeseman, said: “I have run voluntary organisations for many years and I thought I had something to contribute to the new group. It has been really missed since its closure. There has been a great deal of worry that it wouldn’t reopen and that the activities would not come back to the hall.“There is a big hole the association left and we hope to fill it.”She added: “Everyone is really enthusiastic and we are hoping very much we can work with the other group who is bidding. We have rather different outlooks but I am hoping the two groups can come together and everything will work out for the better.”The group’s members have been surveying the community and schools about what they want and have so far pledged to do more for older people as well as more intergenerational activities.Chairwoman of What and another member of the steering committee, Virginia Berridge, said: “We are calling a public meeting on December 12 to set up and name the new organisation, adopt a new constitution and discuss which activities people would like to see at the new community centre.“We are very optimistic about putting together a good programme of what is needed and wanted in all of West Hampstead.“The community is really keen to reopen the centre and make it better because there was a feeling that the old organisation was not reaching out enough to the community.”The meeting will start at 7.30pm at the community hall on Broomsleigh Street.A meeting of the rival Mill Lane Neighbourhood Centre (MLNC) group will take place next Thursday (November 27) at 7pm at the community hall on Broomsleigh Street.Chairwoman of the steering committee Maxine Forrest said: “MLNC has demonstrated that it is democratic, socially inclusive public charity and not a private, secretive, Masonic society.“MLNC seeks to avoid division in the community and advance a unified progressive way forward to re-establishing voluntary sector services in the local community.”A spokeswoman for Camden Council said: “Camden Council is supporting the reinstatement of community services by allocating council funding from the old organisation to a new one. “The service will go to tender early next year and we are very keen that community organisations have the opportunity to tender for this service.”

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