Beloved Highbury Fields Bandstand will be demolished but stay and play services will be provided nearby

Bandstand Highbury Fields playgroup, Church Path Highbury Fields. Cllr Caroline Russell and Terry St

Bandstand Highbury Fields playgroup, Church Path Highbury Fields. Cllr Caroline Russell and Terry Stacy join parents staff and children outside the playgroup as they campaign against their funding cut. - Credit: Archant

Islington Council has confirmed it will demolish a beloved children’s centre in Highbury Fields and move the daycare service to another building.

The Highbury Fields Bandstand will be demolished once a new building at Christ Church in Highbury Grove is completed so services can be provided there.

The Bandstand has been running for four decades and thousands of parents and children each year use its One O'clock Club.

Islington Council says the "poor quality" building isn't safe and previously suggested rebuilding it but now says that would cost £1.6million, which is too expensive.

The town hall says sacrificing the Bandstand will free up funds so it can the redevelop Oasis café and the down-at-heel toilets and park keepers' hut in Highbury Fields. There will be a 10-year lease for the stay and play and stay services of choice at the church site.

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Former Lib Dem council leader and Highbury resident Terry Stacy said: "The council's heart has never been in providing a new building for the One O'clock club. They have strung residents along, first cutting the money from the council's budget a number of years ago that would have provided a new home for them, a new café for the park and other facilities."

"What really sticks in my throat is how much time, energy and money has been wasted in getting to this disappointing situation, a situation which will see some of the area's most in need families and children suffer."

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In 2017, the Bandstand had its funding cut by Islington Council from £19,500 to £7,200.

Sole opposition councillor Caroline Russell (Green Highbury East) welcomed the council's commitment to rebuilding some facilities in Highbury Fields, and the proposed move to the Christ Church building.

But she added: "I am only sad that there is not enough to fix both buildings."

In July we reported the bombshell letter sent to Lorraine Bywater and Sam Parrington, who run the Bandstand, revealing it would likely be knocked down.

At the time Sam said it was "disgusting" the council were "putting a cafe before services for young children".

Islington's environment and transport chief Cllr Rowena Champion said: "We have worked hard to ensure vital stay and play sessions can continue.

"These proposals would see them operating in a brand-new facility as soon as it is ready, and allow our ambitions for the wider building project in Highbury Fields to move forwards."

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