Council Eviction Leaves School Homeless

Pupils from Eden School in Brentford in protest march

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A local school for Seventh Day Adventists has been forced to hold lessons in a library after being evicted from their premises.

The Eden School had been using the Hounslow Council-owned St George’s Community Hall in Brentford but were evicted on the 20th October. They have resumed lessons at the Treaty Centre Library from the 6th November.

On the 7th November children and supporters of the school marched to the Civic Centre in Hounslow to protest at their treatment. A petition was handed over to Council officials.

Cllr Andrew Dakers, Leader of Hounslow Liberal Democrats, has accused the new administration of precipitating the action in a cowardly way without putting in place any contingency plan.

He said, “This council has – by acting against the Community Association running St George – caused it to evict the school. Leaving Eden School as piggy-in-the-middle is appalling. The net result is that these children are being denied their right to education. With only six weeks notice given to the school by the Community Association the Council seems to have made no effort to find the school new accommodation until I intervened. This is extremely irresponsible as it is disruptive to the children’s education, some of whom have important exams this academic year. The Council is denying the children the security they need to thrive."

He added, “Just last weekend, like many other members of the local community, I enjoyed the school’s production of Motherland in Hounslow’s Paul Robeson Theatre at the end of Black History Month celebrations. Eden School has a satisfactory Ofsted report and has a good reputation in the community it serves and with other councils."

The Council say that adequate warning was given to the school and that every effort is being made to find the school alternative premises with Councillors and Council Officers giving up a lot of their spare time to help out.

The school originally came to St. George's Hall two years ago after it was evicted from its previous premises. The Council say the operation of the school was in breach of planning consent which was for a community building only. The St. George’s Community Association had sublet the space in the hall to the school without the consent of the Council.

St. George’s, which was also vacating the building, told the school at the beginning of September 2006 that they were going to vacate the premises, and that the school should move out during the week of half term because they would no longer be tenants of the building.

Cllr. Dakers said the Council should explain why they can't give the school a temporary license to operate while they can work out a longer term solution.

Cllr McGregor, the lead member for finance as well as corporate property, says he has investigated every possibly opportunity to provide accommodation for the school and that the Council will not put children into accommodation that is unsuitable.

Cllr McGregor said, “The sites that have been investigated on a daily basis since last Wednesday have all failed to meet decent standards, including risk assessment for safety of the children; general health; planning permissions; and safety of parents and children when entering and leaving the premises.”

The students continue to be taught at the Treaty Centre Library whilst alternative premises are sought. Anyone with a suitable building available should contact the headteacher Laura Osei via Cllr Dakers (07788 116159).

November 9, 2006