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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 January 2017

Residents protest at plans to close nine community centres

Carnegie Library in Lambeth, children's music session, April 2016, photo James Ivens

Carnegie Library in Lambeth, children's music session, April 2016, photo James Ivens   (Click to enlarge)

Hyde Housing Group announced plans to close nine community centres in the run up to the Christmas break. Two of the centres earmarked for closure by Hyde are in Lambeth and support 870,000 visits a year.

The buildings, their maintenance and the promise to keep them for the community were part of the stock transfer deal from Lambeth Council to Hyde around 20 years ago. Hyde now looks to be breaking its promises to residents by closing them down in its endless search for ever higher profits.

Hyde, like other housing associations, are now big business property developers more than providers of social housing. It has an operating profit of 27% and 95 million in the bank, but doesn't want to pay the 170,000 (or 20p a visit) annual operating costs for the two Lambeth community centres.

Instead, Hyde plans to bulldoze the Kennington Park Community Centre for luxury flats and lease the Stockwell Community Resource to a new provider - with absolutely no guarantees that its present service will be accommodated in the new deal.

Lambeth Council, with some of the highest areas of deprivation in the country, has delivered Tory cuts totalling a 56% reduction in spending since 2010. Predictably this has meant the closure of local services, including half of the libraries in the area. Now Hyde is following the council's lead.

Residents lobbied the head office of Hyde on 6 January and are demonstrating again on 21 January. Gather at Stockwell memorial gardens at 2pm and say no to Hyde. Show your support for our community centres before we say goodbye to what is left of local facilities.

Keep our centres open!

Lisa Bainbridge, Lambeth Socialist Party

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