Campaigners gathered outside a local leisure centre on Saturday (5 November) to protest against its potential demolition, and what they say has been a lack of transparency from Hackney Council.
Around ten members of the ‘Save Britannia Leisure Centre’ campaign manned a table for about two hours, encouraging passers-by to write messages of support.
Hackney Council’s plans could still change, but in its November site update, it said: “The Council is looking into whether it would be possible to build a new leisure centre to replace Britannia – which is coming to the end of its life – and a secondary school – to help meet the demand for school places for local children – on the site.”
The council, in the site update, also announced a ten-week-long consultation on the Britannia site, starting on 5 December.
However, the campaign accused the council of being opaque about its intentions for the site, complaining that the consultation is coming too late.
— Robin Hawkes (@RobinHawkes1) November 5, 2016
Robin Hawkes, who lives in the area and works in social housing, said: “They should have been talking to Britannia users and finding out what were their real concerns, what sort of facilities do they want, what would they be worried about losing here.”
“What’s worrying about this is that it creates the impression, rightly or wrongly, that the council wants to get the proposals so far along the line that it becomes very, very difficult to change them in any substantial way.
“It’s decided what it wants do here and, frankly, consultation can be seen as a real irritant to doing that.”
Pat Turnbull, the petition’s main organiser, told the Hackney Post: “If you don’t actually tell the people who are most concerned, which is the people using the centre, it seems to me that’s a democratic failure.”
Since it was established in August, Save Britannia Leisure Centre has collected 2,600 signatures and over 700 comments calling on Hackney Council not to tear the centre down.
No Hackney councillor responded to a request for comment.
(TOP IMAGE: Alexandra Ma)