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We will bring this community building back into use

April 14, 2010

The disused building at 315 Caledonian Road ... time to bring it back into community use

At a lunch meeting with the Islington Bangladeshi Association today, Paul and Rupert pledged to bring a disused community centre back into use. The building at 315 Caledonian Road (on the corner of Kember Street) is not simply an eyesore but a daily reminder that this neighbourhood lacks a good high street community centre.

Known as the National Heritage & Tourism Library, the building is vacant – apart from beat-up furniture and enormous piles of yellowing paper.

The last known instance when the former community centre was publicly funded was in the mid 1980s when the Manpower Services Commission awarded some grant-aid to run an employability and education scheme. Now the building is becoming severely dilapidated – the condition of the flank wall on Kember Street has deteriorated badly with each recent winter’s weather.

It is quite a mystery how this building covers its business rates. We believe the freehold is held by a dormant charity and it may have an exemption from paying business rates. This will date back several decades to a time when 100% rate rebates were automatic for registered charities.

The Labour team in Caledonian Ward has been trying for several years to unpick the ownership of the building. They believe that the charity has failed to meet its legal duties to submit accounts and annual reports to the Charity Commission. It is also pretty clear the charity is not meeting its own charitable purposes and should be wound-up.

If Labour wins a majority in the Town Hall on May 6th, we will order an immediate start to legal proceedings to transfer the building to a new charitable entity that will run the building for genuine community purposes. Over the past 4 years, Cally Councillors have tried to get the Council’s legal people to undertake this task but without agreement to proceed.

Rupert Perry says “I’ve lived here for over 20 years and this building has always been out of use. I’ve been trying for years to find a way to get it back into community ownership. Some detective work over the last couple of years has revealed what I always suspected – the charity is defunct. So it’s time to exercise determined legal action to release the property back to the community. Then we’ll get on with raising some money to renovate the building.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Barry Edwards permalink
    April 14, 2010 10:01 pm

    I often wondered was this was when I lived in Gifford Street in the 1980s. Islington is too short of space to allow any of it to be wasted!

  2. April 26, 2010 12:59 pm

    Would be great to see something positive here, would make a real difference in this area. I’ve often wondered why this was kind of idle.

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