Council Approves Sales of Town Hall and Sands End Centre

Fulham landmarks among eight buildings to be sold off

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Campaigners fighting to save Fulham's Sands End Community Centre were left disappointed after Hammersmith and Fulham council cabinet gave its approval to plans to sell off both the centre and Fulham Town Hall at a meeting last night, Monday February 7.

The decision to rubber stamp plans to sell off eight "under-used" buildings was made despite a large public protest outside the town hall.

Before the meeting, Rosie Borgia, chair of Save Sands End Community Centre said: "The closure of Sands End Centre will leave many people isolated and without easy access to a local library, children's and social services, an affordable gym and adult education.

" We are faced with a refusal by this administration to listen to the electorate they serve. They are deaf to reasoned argument and lacking in compassion for the less able in the community."

Other buildings which the council plans to sell are Hammersmith's Irish Centre and Palingswick House,which is earmarked for Toby Young's West London Free School, the Village Hall and Askham Family Centre in Shepherd's Bush, the Distillery Lane Children's Centre and the Greswell Centre, currently home to HAFAD -  Hammersmith and Fulham Action on Disability.

The council says it plans to sell the "under-used" buildings in order to help pay off its £133 million historic debt and reduce the impact of the public sector funding squeeze on its frontline services.

Before the meeting, Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter said: "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.

Mr Slaughter, who spoke to the protestors outside the town hall, described the cabinet decision as "galling".

The council says sales of the buildings were recommended by reports produced after a public consultation in autumn.

Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh said: "We had to make a tough decision last night but we would not be able to secure a strong future and protect front-line services if we didn't tackle our historic debt - which costs taxpayers £5million a year in interest payments to the banks.

“We have pledged to work with the groups who expressed an interest in buying the buildings and there will not be any quick sales to allow time for these discussions to take place."

February 8, 2011