Roundhouse's move must only be temporary
AS ONE of the local Highbury councillors, I would like to set out my views on the controversial closure notice served by Islington council on the Roundhouse building. Despite our political differences, we have been impressed by the decisive action taken b
AS ONE of the local Highbury councillors, I would like to set out my views on the controversial closure notice served by Islington council on the Roundhouse building.
Despite our political differences, we have been impressed by the decisive action taken by the executive member who has worked with the Roundhouse management and council officers to rehouse the valuable community activities following the declaration that the building is dangerous.
However, moving Roundhouse activities to different locations can only be a temporary solution. The Roundhouse is a focal point for our community and its value lies in being a common meeting place for the young people, the families and the older people's groups who have used the building daily for the best part of 40 years.
There is disagreement between the council's surveyors and the Roundhouse's as to whether the building really is as dangerous as claimed and the extent and cost of remedial works.
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This needs to be resolved quickly and we call on the council to be completely open with the advice it has received and the plans it is considering so that a properly informed discussion can take place and a consensus reached.
If consensus is not possible, the council should agree to independent arbitration before taking any action - such as demolishing the building - that will close off options for the future.
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As local councillors we also believe we should be fully involved in any decisions about the future of this important local institution once the technical position is established.
We also need to plan for contingencies. Under the previous Lib-Dem administration, we did investigate various alternative buildings in case we were faced with the situation we now face. These need to be dusted off, evaluated and costed to provide a rational basis for decisions about the Roundhouse's future. They can also provide a benchmark against which to compare the cost of the Roundhouse management's and the local councillors' preferred option - the repair of the existing building so that it can serve Highbury people for another 40 years - or more! - Councillor Julie Horten, Liberal Democrat, Highbury East ward, Town Hall, Upper Street, N1.