(Pic: Southwark News)
Thurlow Lodge Community Hall on Aylesbury Estate, Walworth is being defended by local users and groups after Southwark Council sought to close the well used space. Locals have began an occupation of the space and a meeting this week issued the following joint statement from Divine Rescue, the Thurlow Lodge occupation committee and Aylesbury new TRA steering group:
Save Divine Rescue and Thurlow Lodge Community Hall
Support the occupation of Thurlow Lodge!
Southwark Council intends to close or privatise Thurlow Lodge Community Hall and it has tried to evict homeless charity and foodbank Divine Rescue from Thurlow Lodge. This is both an attack on the homeless, disabled and poor clients of this charity and an attack on council tenants and residents on the Aylesbury Estate. By demolishing more than 2,000 council homes on the Aylesbury, the Council will create even more homeless people.
Our occupation, determined opposition and the support of trade unions, campaign groups and the wider tenants’ movement has forced the Council to row back on their eviction threats and attempts to close the hall. The Council now claims it never tried to close the hall in the first place! However, it is still considering legal action against Divine Rescue and it has put the prospect of privatisation on the table by saying that the hall will be put out to tender.
This is unacceptable. Tenants and residents on the Aylesbury are in the process of forming a new tenants’ and residents’ association which claims the right to manage this hall in the interests of the community, provide a secure home for Divine Rescue and fight for council housing for all. We are proud to state that the new TRA steering group has been offered the solidarity and assistance of experienced tenant reps in Southwark. We have every confidence that the new TRA will be able to successfully manage the hall and provide a full programme of events and activities. The new TRA is keen to work with the two remaining TRAs on the Aylesbury Estate to provide a genuine democratic voice for Aylesbury tenants and residents.
We demand that the Council recognise the Aylesbury new TRA as soon as it is set up. We demand that the Council lifts all threats of closure and privatisation and accepts that Divine Rescue can remain, on its current rent. We call on Southwark Council to halt the demolition of the Aylesbury Estate and instead refurbish and properly maintain our council housing.
Signed, Thurlow Lodge occupation committee, Divine Rescue and Aylesbury new TRA
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Join us in our programme of activities in defence of our TRA hall and Divine Rescue
Thurlow Lodge Community Hall
1 Thurlow Street, London, SE17 2US
• Saturday 14th January 3pm – Solidarity Tea Party with music and fun. Bring union and campaign banners. Banner making workshop. All welcome including children.
• Sunday 15th January 5:30pm – New TRA inaugural meeting. All Aylesbury tenants and residents welcome Followed by 6:30pm – Occupation meeting