Wally Foster Centre: Legends of Kingsmead event organiser left outside with £2,000 booking fee in pocket
- Credit: Bod Aiyede
Concerns over the management of the Wally Foster Centre rumble on, after organisers of a community event turned up to pay with £2,000 cash as requested – only to find no one was there to take it.
Boxer Lennox Lewis was supposed to be a surprise guest at The Legends of Kingsmead (LoK) awards evening on Saturday night, set up to “bolster community spirit”.
But after problems paying for the hall – which would have cost £2,500 - organisers subsequently cancelled – and it’s now scheduled to happen Saturday at the Hackney Marsh Partnership’s Concorde youth centre for free.
Earlier this month the Gazette reported community groups are complaining of being “priced out” of the hall, which was founded 42 years ago by the late councillor Wally Foster for local people. Hackney’s former Mayor Kenrick Hanson raised concerns with the council in February that prices are more akin to hiring out the town hall.
LoK founder Bod Aiyede is now upset he is out of pocket after cancelling the not-for-profit event – but felt that manager Anthony Roberts, who has refused to give the £500 deposit back, was making him “jump through hoops” and had the feeling he was going to cancel the event anyway.
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“He asked for two grand cash,” said Mr Aiyede. “That was the agreement and he said if it wasn’t there by Monday November 12 I would lose my £500 deposit.
“I was scared when he wasn’t there – how would you feel if you had that money in your pocket and that person wasn’t there?” he asked. “I didn’t feel comfortable having that money.”
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“I sent a message to him and he said the guy who is in charge will be there tomorrow, and you’ll have to make an appointment to see him. That’s why I thought he was playing games.”
Mr Roberts said full payment was required two weeks before the event but that he had extended the deadline to November 12.
“It came to our attention on October 12 that the organisers were charging for entry to attend the event, which made it a licensed event.
“By refunding the deposit the local community centre would be losing revenue due to the opportunity costs involved.”
Mr Aiyede confirmed they had set up a fundraising page for the not-for-profit event, but had only sold three tickets for £1 each.
The council is still investigating whether the hall is being used primarily for Hackney residents and being robustly governed.