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56 Southwark Bridge Road

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Friday 7 November 2003 1.29pm

Apologies if this has been discussed already.

I understand that Elephant Links have been given the management of this old (disused) community centre. For those that aren't sure where this is, it is the lovely looking old Library building on the corner of Union Street and Southwark Bridge Road.

It used to have a caff underneath. The Council own the building. And it is a real shame that it has remained empty and closed for years while money has poured into the area. Although I suppose we ought to be glad that it hasn't been sold off to developers.

Does anyone know anything about this?

Has anyone locally been consulted by about what sort of activities are being planned?


Friday 7 November 2003 11.59pm
Yes, a bit. It was formerly a community centre run by a voluntary management committee, with a small grant from the Council and bits of money from a few charities. The building is great, but needed a lot of upkeep and improvements to bring it up to modern standards. Grant was just not enough to let us do this (I was on the Committee, and secretary towards the end.) Council Officers had the idea that building should be closed & a new centre built in Mint St Park. They even tried to say that poor state of the building was the fault of the Management Committee for not running it properly - on 6k a year?? I am sure that intention was to sell of 56 for expensive housing. We and local commmunity opposed this & it was dropped. Cafe in basement was great, but never had any planning consent (was never applied for.) Building was closed in October 1999 and totally neglected - it got flooded and in worse condition. (This was although there was a security guard in there for 24 hours a day - odd that Council could afford this & not repairs.)

Security guard eventually removed, & earlier this year building was squatted, which made its state even worse. I'm not totally up to date on this as I'm now out of the loop, but I think that idea is that it is now in such a grotty state that only way to keep it & ensure that it continues as some sort of community facility is to make it over to Elephant Links, who have money, as 'training facility' with community use. There is a meeting soon re; this.

It doesn't seem ideal, far from it, but I think main thing is to ensure that there is a strong element of genuine community availability & that all facilities for local people. I suggest that for further info people to contact are Bankside Residents Forum (Sue Page) who will do what they can to represent local people & see that there ims info & (hopefully) consultation.
Monday 10 November 2003 12.18pm
There was some discussion on this earlier in the year:

The most recent response on that thread was from Nick Stanton on 4 March - not sure if this is still the plan but it goes as follows.....

"A decision HAS been taken- at the end of last year.

The Council Executive decided that we would work with the Elephant Links SRB to refurbish the building and re-open it as a community centre with an emphasis on supporting access to employment by local people. We will hopefully be establishng a trust to manage the building and the Access Centre.

The SRB is drawing up detailed proposals - when they are available I'll try and remember to post them here - AFAIR the intention was to get the building open again by the end of 2004

Nick Stanton
Leader of Southwark Council"
Monday 10 November 2003 7.05pm
The Cafe was fantastic. The staff were lovely and the food was extremely reasonable. I worked just round the corner and many a lunchtime was spent there. I was devastated when it closed.
Monday 10 November 2003 7.36pm
Thanks - I worked there!
Wednesday 12 November 2003 11.59pm
I went to a 'consultation' last night on Union St.

The SRB people there are proposing that 56SBR is going to be used for a training centre but that there might be some community space available at certain times.

No definite ideas were put forward as the business planning has still to be done - but the good news is that the building could be opened once again.

I understand however that no money will be forthcoming from the council for running costs. The centre will run a series of profit making concerns to try and raise enough funds to run any community facilities.

WHY can't some of the section 106/planning gain from all the new development here be used to create an endowment for the benefit of the local people? (instead of new pavements. again.)

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