Community bookshop in Dalston fights Hackney Council eviction over huge rent hike

Centerprise has been serving the community for 41 years

A community and arts centre is fighting threatened eviction by its landlords Hackney council.

The Centerprise in Kingsland High Street was given notice to quit by the council and organisers claim it faces closure if forced to leave the building.

The centre has been paying a peppercorn rent of �10 a week to the council – and boss Emmanuel Amevor said the rent hads now been increased to �37,000 a year.

Centerprise held a public meeting to launch a fighting fund and to drum up support to keep it open.

It includes a cafe and bookshop and has been running in Dalston for 41 years.

It also offers homework clubs for children aged from five to A-level age.

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Mr Amevor said: “We are not interested in legal battles with the council. All of us want to be left alone to deliver our services.”

Its current home was originally bought by Hackney Council for the use of Centerprise, according to Mr Amevor.

The council had filed papers at Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court to repossess the building but has put a court date on hold and is planning fresh talks with Centreprise.

In a statement Hackney council said: “Centerprise had been paying �10 per week rent on a double shop-front property on a busy high street, which is not a rent level that could continue for any organisation.

“Despite attempts from the Council, Centerprise has failed to adequately engage with us over several years regarding a new lease. This has resulted in the council initiating legal proceedings. We are committed to continuing to pursue legal action but will not be taking the case to court on Friday. This will give the opportunity for further discussion between the council and Centerprise.”

The council served a legal notice on Centerprise last year to bring the current lease to an end this summer.

It offered a new lease last November which it said has not been taken up.

The council recently developed the voluntary and community sector organisations lettings policy offering reduced rents to organisations which meet its criteria.