250 Isleworth Residents March to Save St. Johnís Community Centre
St John's too Valuable to Close
A massive turnout of Isleworth residents and community activists responded to a Hounslow Council “consultation” on the proposed closure of a community centre by marching through the town demanding that the plans be dropped.
Some 250 people took to the streets last Saturday, waving placards and demonstrating their support for the Centre. The march was attended by Syon ward Councillor Theo Dennison, who is also a Lead Member overseeing the closure plans, and by Isleworth ward councillor Ed Mayne. The Centre rests on the border between the two wards.
The Centre plays host to 32 user groups as well as being a popular venue for meetings and other community activities. It was left in trust to the community by Pears and has formerly been a school and a college. In 1975 the Scottish rock group Nazareth performed a concert there.
Council officers argue that major investment is needed at the building in order to perform modernisation and repair works. However at its budget meeting in March 2010 councillors voted to allocate £250,000 towards this work – money that is still available for the purpose. Officers omitted to mention this money when presenting their report to Cabinet urging disposal of the property.
The Independent Community Group (ICG) is now seeking information from the Council and wants assurances that this money has not been diverted towards other projects behind the backs of elected members.
ICG Chair Ian Speed, who led the march, commented: “This enormous turnout will hopefully have impressed upon the lead members and other councillors the strength of feeling that exists. People want this Centre to stay.
“If anybody believed that a loaded residents’ survey and a report to Cabinet that appeared to withhold vital information would underplay the importance of this facility to Isleworth people then any such ideas will have been dispelled by the sheer size of this demonstration”.
November 30, 2011