Ongoing Centerprise dispute to go to court

Centerprise Hackney. pic: Will Coldwell

A new court date has been set to settle an ongoing lease dispute between Hackney Council and the community centre.

Centerprise Community Centre had been hoping to negotiate with the council outside of court after a previous court date in November was dropped following what supporters of the centre described as “community pressure”.

Subsequently, Centerprise Chief Executive Emmanuel Amevor, chaired a meeting where he appeared confident the dispute could progress in their favour.

Centerprise planned to continue a legal challenge to the new lease, while also making an application for subsidised rent under the council’s Community and Voluntary Sector Lettings policy.

The basis of Centerprise’s challenge is that although they accept the council has legal ownership, it was bought with £50,000 of grant money awarded to them in 1984.

Notice of the new hearing was received the day before a meeting between Amevor and council officers to clarify the terms of the CVS Lettings Policy.

The hearing will be on January 20, 2012 at Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court.

On the new court hearing, Amevor said: “We have been led to believe that a deal was in the offing. We are astonished at this sudden turn out of events.”

Hackney Council has reiterated that they “did not purchase the property on behalf of Centerprise or any other organisation, and Centerprise have never had any legal interest in the property beyond that of a tenant.”

They have said the current lease that Centerprise holds, which consists of a peppercorn rent of £10 a week, is “not a rent level that could continue for any organisation.”

Centerprise say that past offers to purchase the building outright have been rejected.

However the council have said that while it is quite possible there may have been negotiations in the past, they are not aware of any recent offers.

Centerprise are holding a meeting next year for members and supporters on January 2 at 6.30 pm to discuss this latest development.

For more information visit the website.

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