Council cuts: ‘Amazing’ Tottenham Selby Centre ‘will be lost’ warns trust chief

Mar 8 2011 - 6:05pm

Published in:
By Stephen Moore Wednesday, February 23, 2011 12:30 PM
Tottenham & Wood Green Journal
London 24
Hornsey, Crouch End & Mushwell Hill Journal

AN “AMAZING model” of the Big Society in action is at risk of closure after Haringey Council said it planned to withdraw an annual £163,000 grant.

The Selby Centre community centre in Selby Road, Tottenham, may have to be shut down after the council decided “in principle” to stop funding its parent organisation, the Selby Trust, beyond March 31.

The centre has been running for 22 years and provides facilities for more than 100 social enterprises as well community services including training facilities, a crèche, a supplementary school and sports and events spaces.

It got national exposure last autumn when X Factor star Olly Murs and T4 presenter Jameela Jamil mucked in with hundreds of volunteers for an Orange Rock Corps event, filmed for a documentary.

Some 1,500 people use it each day and it employs 300 people, while Hornsey and Wood Green MP and equalities minister Lynne Featherstone hailed it as “an amazing model” of the Big Society in action after a visit just three months ago.

More than two-thirds of its income is generated from the social enterprises it rents space to - but without the council’s grant, Selby Trust chief executive Sona Mahtani says it “will be lost”.

The council says it has concerns over the trust’s financial viability, and has called in the auditors to examine its accounts before making a final decision.

Yet the trust says the long-term viability of the centre relies on the council offering to extend its lease - requests which have been ignored since 2003, says Ms Mahtani.

She said: “Selby Trust has transformed a 1960s shell into a thriving hub that shows what a poor community can do for volunteering, self help, jobs and social enterprise.

“Anyone who takes the time to examine the situation closely will find widespread acknowledgement that the community users, charities, trustees and local staff have built up something very special indeed at this community hub over the last 22 years.

“The social capital is through the roof with 100 per cent occupancy with capacity for further growth.

“Selby Trust needs to remain to help people at a grass roots level for the tough times ahead.

“But the council audit of the trust comes at a time when local authorities may feel greater pressure to generate income from selling off land to developers.”

A spokesman for Haringey Council said: “No final decision has been taken. The council has a duty to safeguard public funds and often has to make informed, yet difficult, decisions with this in mind.”

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