A boating charity threatened with permanent closure has accused the council of "cutting us off at our knees".

Islington Council initially closed Islington Boat Club, based at City Road Basin, on May 6 this year amid safety concerns about its building. 

A report released after a Freedom of Information request states that “the building would fail all statutory checks relating to fire” and that “many defects and signs of damage are apparent within the [mechanical and electrical] installation”.    

The club has not reopened since and under current plans will have to leave its site by January 14. 

But the charity says that it does not need the condemned building, and would prefer to build a new one. However, it currently has no income while its boats are not allowed out on the water.

Islington Gazette:

Islington Boat Club manager Sarah-Jane Elvin said that the boat club could operate without the building as it did during the Covid pandemic.

She explained: “We just need access to some hard standing outside the building and to where the boats are stored to be able to kayak.”

She added: "Between May to July, we had to cancel 144 bookings – that’s 1,600 individuals, and roughly £100,000 in lost income.

“[Islington Council] are basically cutting us off at our knees, we’ve got no way of generating money so we’re unable to survive.”

Despite having lost this source of income, the boat club is still incurring costs such as standing charges for gas and electricity related to the unsafe building.

It is also still trying to run off-site sessions for its disability group, ‘All on Board’.

Islington Gazette:

Sarah-Jane said: "For our 'All on Board' group, the boat club is a lifeline. So then, to suddenly have that shut, they didn’t have much understanding as to why."

Islington Gazette:

The charity currently relies on the National Lottery Reaching Communities fund and other fundraising activities to run the group and other youth club activities.

The club has now launched a 'Save our club' campaign to fight the closure notice, encouraging the local community to contact borough councillors and MP Emily Thornberry on its behalf.

An Islington Council spokesperson said: “Islington Council had to close the Islington Boat Club site because dangerous structural and electrical health and safety issues were found on the site.  This was necessary to protect the safety of club users.

“The council considers that City Road Basin is a unique and special resource.  The council wants to see it being fully used by local people for boating activities, and is very disappointed that it has had to close the site.

“Islington Boat Club is a charity, and is not funded by the council. As an independent organisation with responsibility for the site they need to show that they are able to put right the problems that resulted in the council having to close the site, and that they can prevent similar problems from happening again.

“The council needs to have confidence that the site and the club will be safely and properly run.”