Protesters bring fight to council over community centre and market plans
Oct 28 2010 By Dan Hodges
Protesters fighting on two of the borough's biggest battlegrounds descended on Fulham Town Hall last night for a dramatic clash with councillors.
Dozens of residents angry over the planned sale of Sands End Community Centre marched a 7,000-strong petition to the council chamber demanding that Hammersmith and Fulham Council thinks again.
And traders and supporters of Shepherd's Bush Market followed them into the public gallery, furiously denouncing proposals for a complete redevelopment of the market site which they fear could force them out.
Nicholas Waldemar Brown, of Save Sands End Community Centre Action Group, presented the petition calling on the council to abandon its plans to sell the large Broughton Road site, thought to be worth £2 million, and shift the library, gym, pottery studio and other services elsewhere.
He said: "Once sold, it will never be replaced. The centre is much more than the sum of its parts, and so much more than just bricks and mortar."
Mr Waldemar Brown claimed the argument that the centre is under-used was down to poor management decisions by the council, such as only opening the gym at 10am on week days and not at all on weekends, and said the site could be 'reinvigorated' by residents.
"Here is a an opportunity," he said. "With your help, we can turn Sands End into a flagship for the big society."
Tory councillors – including Sands End representatives Steve Hamilton, Jane Law and Ali de Lisle – voted not to withdraw the plans but to carry out more research.
Resident services leader Greg Smith said: "This is a proposal that's still out for consultation until November 10, however we are saying categorically that council services run in Sands End Community Centre will be reprovisioned elsewhere."
Labour leader Stephen Cowan, arguing for the centre to be kept, said: "This administration is fast getting a reputation of being bull-headed, not listening, not caring and riding roughshod over people's concerns."
Traders angry over the planned redevelopment of Shepherd's Bush Market heckled councillors from the gallery and unfurled banners reading: "H&F – putting profit first."
They claim initial plans have gone far beyond a much-needed update of the market site to include new houses and shops and the demolition of a terrace of Victorian shops housing traditional businesses in Goldhawk Road.
Labour councillor Andrew Jones said: "This is not regeneration, this is about complete community transformation – though I prefer the word destruction."
The council's strategy leader, Mark Loveday, accused Labour of orchestrating 'a very clever piece of political theatre' in encouraging vocal opposition to the plans, which are at an early stage.
Council leader Stephen Greenhalgh said: "What this administration is trying to do is set forward an idea to build on the heritage of Shepherd's Bush and make sure the market survives."
He said 'every single fear and every single concern' of the traders will be addressed before any scheme is pushed forward.