Huge Protest Planned at Town Hall Tonight
Palingswick House and Irish Centre campaigners join rally
Campaigners fighting to save Hammersmith's Irish Centre and Palingswick House will be among local people protesting outside the Town Hall in Kings Street at 6pm tonight, Monday February 7.
The protest will be held ahead of a council cabinet meeting which is expected to approve the sales of these two buildings plus seven more in order to pay off debts.
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."
The council says a report has recommended the sales following detailed consultation carried out over the Autumn.
A separate report to Cabinet on February 7 recommends approval of the proposed sale of Sands End Community Centre.
" We have had a very wide-ranging consultation on the sale of these sites and I appreciate the contributions that local people have made," says Council Leader, Councillor Stephen Greenhalgh.
" I understand how difficult some people have found it to come to terms with the budget pressures we are facing, but the reality is, we have no choice but to reduce our spending and whether it is right to sell buildings rather than cut services will be decided by Cabinet on February 7."
Here are details of the main local sites:
The council has indicated that, if the decision is taken to sell Palingswick House, it would be interested in considering proposals from the West London Free School to buy the site.
If ICCH are unable to raise the funds, the council would not be in a position to renew the lease and will offer the property for sale to other interested parties.
At a council meeting held on January 26, supporters of the Irish Centre, who had gathered a petition with almost 6,000 signatures, packed the public gallery to hear the centre's chairman Jim O'Hara accuse the council of reneging of an offer to extend the lease on the building and appeal to councillors that if they insisted on going ahead with a sale that they should give the centre three years to raise the money needed.
Mr O’Hara added that it would be "disastrous" if the only centre devoted to Irish culture in Britain was forced to close
The cultural centre was established in 1995 and was funded directly by the council until 2007, when its £175,000 subsidy was stopped after the Conservatives took over control of the council.
Palingswick House is currently used by 21 voluntary and community groups, who will be forced to move out to allow the building to be converted for use by the high profile West Lonon Free School.
The organisations include the Iranian Association which runs a well-used Learndirect centre from the premises. Other, non-refugee, groups in residence include Hammersmith and Fulham Community Transport and its fleet of two dozen minibuses.
The groups have now been invited to apply for space within community "hubs" across the borough.
February 7, 2011