Centerprise ousted from property in Kingsland Road following legal wrangle
PUBLISHED: 16:21 05 November 2012 | UPDATED: 18:03 05 November 2012
It was the end of an era for a much-loved bookshop and community hub last Friday (November 2) after they were evicted from their premises in Dalston.
Centerprise, which has been based in Kingsland Road for 42 years, were ousted by landlord Hackney Council following a legal wrangle over rent.
The centre, which specialises in black history and literature, were paying a peppercorn rent of £520 per year when the council bought the building in 1984. In 2010, the council served a legal notice to raise the rent to £37,000 when its lease expired last June.
Centerprise offered to pay £12,000 per year but the council claimed this was substantially below the market rate of £4 per square foot for charities, or £37,000 per year which it charges private businesses.
The dispute was taken to court on October 16. During the judgement at Central London County Court in Marylebone, Centerprise were given seven days to vacate the premises and told to pay legal costs and £50,000 in outstanding rent.
Last Friday, the council seized control of the property.
Centerprise director Emmanuel Amevor said: “They came like thieves in the dead of night to seize the property when no one was around. We have many valuables in the property and no inventory has been taken.
“We hope everything is safe as we are talking of over four decades of Hackney’s black British cultural history. The trustees are currently taking legal action on the matter.”
Arthur Torrington, secretary of the Windrush Foundation, said: “This Labour Council should be ashamed of itself. We ask people to write to the Mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe condemning their actions.”
A spokesman from Hackney Council said: “The council has taken back the building at 136-138 Kingsland High Street. This was after Centerprise failed to comply with a court order requiring them to give up possession of that building by October 23.
“For many months the council committed to working with Centerprise to resolve this situation, but unfortunately despite our best efforts the council was left with no other course of action.
“The council has no intention of selling the building and it is committed to ensuring that it is used by a voluntary or community group to provide services to the people of Hackney.”