Sotheby Mews Day Centre’s future dominates full council meeting, where mayor tells housing boss to ‘shut up’
- Credit: Archant
Elderly people fought to save a Highbury day centre from closure at a heated full council meeting last night, during which the mayor of Islington told the borough’s housing boss to “shut up”.
Campaigners to save the Sotheby Mews Day centre quizzed Cllr Diarmaid Ward, who reaffirmed Islington’s commitment to bulldoze the centre and replace it with affordable housing.
But Cllr Ward repeated the plan was to move services to the Highbury Roundhouse community centre – and he promised the move wouldn’t go ahead unless key concerns are addressed.
During questions from the public, Margaret Woolfe criticised the suitability of the new venue, saying the main hall has no windows on its walls.
She suggested this could have a negative impact on “vulnerable” elderly people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder or depression.
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“The first thing to say is this council is dedicated to delivering more genuinely affordable housing,” said Cllr Ward. “We have a mandate to do so.
“The centre is a suitable design to meet the needs of as many different groups as possible, including the users of Sotheby Mews.”
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Margaret then asked all the councillors to hold their hand up if they work in a room without windows.
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At which point Cllr Ward cut in, and said: “There are four giant skylights [in the main hall].”
He later added: “Let’s me and you go do to Highbury Roundhouse and see how lovely it is – the coffee is on me”.
At this point the mayor of Islngton, Cllr David Poyser, told the housing boss to “shut up”.
The back and forth had taken up too much time and the mayor suggested they discuss coffee plans in their own time.
Another service user, Irma Gomez, made an impassioned plea for the services to remain at Sotheby Mews – but some of her words were drowned out during a heated outburst from Anita Frizzarin.
Irma said she walks from her house to Sotheby Mews and would struggle to get to the centre, which is nearly two miles away.
She added there are many service users with physical and emotional problems, asking: “How can they walk there?”.
Irma urged the council to reconsider, and said: “[The council] can fix everything but it cannot fix the location.”
And Cllr Ward said: “You have raised some valid points. My promise is simple, we will not move the services unless the issues are solved, and that includes the transport issue.”