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South London march against community centre closures
Jimmy Lapin, Lambeth Socialist Party
150 south London residents marched to oppose the closures of their community centres on 21 January. Hyde Housing Group plans to close centres in Stockwell and Kennington in Lambeth, and seven others across London.
Hyde says it can no longer afford to subsidise the centres despite an operating profit of £95 million last year.
Lively working class demonstrators bought us out of copies of the Socialist. Local Socialist Party member Steve Nally spoke after Labour councillor Alex Bigham.
Steve welcomed Bigham's attendance, but pointed out Lambeth's cutting Labour councillors are behaving like "red Tories," which marchers applauded.
The march is only the beginning of the campaign as residents seek a judicial review to the closures in Stockwell and Kennington, and plan further lobbies of Hyde Housing head office at London Bridge. A petition launched after Christmas already has 2,500 signatures.
The affected estates in south London were stock-transferred to Hyde 20 years ago. Part of that deal was the building of the new centre at Stockwell, which is only 16 years old, and the upkeep of both centres in Lambeth.
This will form the basis of the legal challenge to Hyde brought by local residents. The wider context of the closures is that housing associations now see themselves as property developers and speculators rather than providers of social housing. Services such as community centres are being trimmed as profits soar.
In The Socialist 25 January 2017:
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