West Hampstead left without community hub

RESIDENTS in West Hampstead are furious that Camden Council looks set to sell their community centre on Mill Lane, leaving them out in the cold.

Susanna Wilkey RESIDENTS in West Hampstead are furious that Camden Council looks set to sell their community centre on Mill Lane, leaving them out in the cold.Since the liquidation of the West Hampstead Community Association last July, many residents have worked hard to set up a new group called the Community Association of West Hampstead (CAWH).They are now devastated that Camden is set to approve the sale of the centre on Mill Lane. And since the Broomsleigh Street hall will soon be used by Sington nursery as part of the development of Emmanuel School, it leaves the community with no hub.Alan Johnson, chairman of CAWH, said: “It is going to be a huge loss for the community of West Hampstead. It is terrible and a real shame. The council is basically asking us to make do.“We want to voice our grave concerns and disappointment. It feels like Camden has deliberately been keeping quiet about this.“I really fear for the future. There hasn’t been anything in the way of community consultation and there are so many groups who need a place where they can get some sense of ownership and where they can feel safe.”Pauline Cheeseman, vice chairwoman of CAWH, said: “This is an erosion of community facilities.”David Howell MBE, former manager of the West Hampstead Community Association and involved with the Mill Lane Neighbourhood Centre (MLNC), another group which wants to run services in West Hampstead, said: “It is not fit for purpose but there have got to be other kind of alternatives made available. The council has been paying money for it for a year while providing no services, which is a waste of cash.”The decision on whether to sell 60-62 Mill Lane is due to be made on June 24 and residents are furious there has been no consultation. Furthermore, nothing has been offered as a replacement.CAWH is planning to bid for council funding to run a new community association, but now fears it will be difficult because of a chronic lack of buildings.Chairman of West Hampstead Amenity and Transport Virginia Berridge, who is also involved in CAWH, said: “We feel very cheesed off really that we are being totally left out. The community as a whole doesn’t know what is going on and there needs to be some consultation about what will happen to these buildings.“It is not just us – there is also Sure Start and the cubs and scouts who use the building regularly – what will happen to all these people. There doesn’t seem to be any strategy at all apart from selling everything off.”A spokeswoman for Camden Council said no decision had yet been finalised.“We are aware and understand the concerns of local residents regarding the future of 60-62 Mill Lane, which formerly accommodated a community association,” she said. “No decision has been made on the future of 60 – 62 Mill Lane. This will be fully discussed at the executive on June 24.”For more information on CAWH visit www.cawh.org.uk.