Supporters of Centreprise can claim a swift victory after Hackney Council dropped legal action to evict the community and arts centre.
The Centerprise Trust was due to have a hearing at Shoreditch and Clerkenwell County Court today (Friday), which could have seen them evicted from the property on Kingsland Road where they have been based for over forty years.
Legal costs to defend the action could have run up to £20,000, according to estimations by the Centreprise Defence Fund.
Emmanuel Amevor, Chief Executive of the Centerprise Trust, welcomed the news of the council’s decision to drop proceedings. But he warned that “the fight is not over”. “Until they let go, we can’t rest”, he told ELL.
Equality campaigner and journalist Lester Holloway described the council’s decision as “an outbreak of commen sense” on his blog.
No date has been for the dispute to be brought to court again, but Amevor will meet with Council officers next Tuesday to discuss the case. Following this there will be a community meeting at Centerprise at 6.30pm to debate the outcome of the discussions.
Hackney Council say they are having “further discussions” and that “nothing has changed”. However there is speculation that the decision has been made as a result of community pressure.
A petition to ‘STOP Hackney Council attempting to close down Centerprise Trust Ltd’ has gathered 124 signatures so far. Centerprise also hosted book readings over the weekend to raise funds and support for their campaign, which featured MOBO winning hip hop artist Akala.
The dispute between Centerprise and Hackney Council revolves around lease negotiations which go back two decades.
An initial statement from the Council said Centerprise “had been paying £10 per week rent on a double shop-front property on a busy high street, which is not a rent level that could continue for any organization”. But Amevor claimed past attempts to buy the property outright from the council have been rejected.
A crisis meeting held at Centerprise a week ago on Thursday was well attended by local residents and regular users of the facilities at the community centre, which consists of a bookshop, café and workshop space.
An open meeting will be held at Centerprise on Tuesday at 6.30 to discuss the outcome of the meeting with Hackney Council. Centerprise is welcoming anyone to attend the meeting.
To take part in the campaign you can:
Follow Centerprise on Twitter twitter.com/centerpriseT
Sign the petition: http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/savecenterprise