I recently met with angry members of a local church Charity whose plans to renovate the dilapidated former Ashburton Library building have been scuppered by the Labour administration now in charge of Croydon Council.
The much-loved building in Ashburton Park, empty since 2006, was set to come back to life as a church, nursery and community centre this year after an agreement was made with the previous Conservative administration.
His Grace Evangelical Outreach, currently based in Thornton Heath, were planning to spend at least £700,000 spent on bringing it back into use. The Council took their money and gave them the keys to the building. Despite this, within days of taking control of Croydon Council, the Labour Party decided to renege on the deal.
Pastor Bola Thomas and members of the charity are rightly upset by their decision. They had the keys to the building since January this year. Croydon's Cabinet agreed, the Corporate Services Committee agreed, they have a legally binding Lease Agreement signed in the presence of both the Council and their own solicitors and had started renovation work. They can’t understand why the Labour Party are trying to stop them from bringing this beautiful building back to the community.
This is frankly a dishonourable way for the Council to behave, particularly given they gave no indication in the run-up to the local elections that this is what they would do. It is also a baffling decision given they appear to have no alternative plan to bring the building back into active use.
Pastor Thomas has every right to be upset and will have my full support in seeking to get this decision over-turned.