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Sotheby Mews: Islington leader open to ‘conversations with service users’ but day centre is still closing

PUBLISHED: 11:04 10 December 2018 | UPDATED: 13:03 10 December 2018

Sotheby Mews Day Centre campaigners on the town hall steps before the petition was handed in to Islington Council last year. Picture: James Morris

Sotheby Mews Day Centre campaigners on the town hall steps before the petition was handed in to Islington Council last year. Picture: James Morris

Archant

Elderly service users of a Highbury day centre set for demolition staged an impassioned and slightly surreal demonstration on the Town Hall steps last night.

Cllrs Diarmaid Ward and Caroline Russell have a difference of opinion. Picture: Polly HancockCllrs Diarmaid Ward and Caroline Russell have a difference of opinion. Picture: Polly Hancock

This was the latest protests from the service users who are unhappy about losing their centre and plans to relocate them to a shared space in the Highbury Roundhouse.

Ahead of the full council meeting, stalwart Save Sotheby Mews campaigner, Irma Gomez, told the Gazette: “The councillors will get old one day and will need this centre but they will see too late.”

During the meeting, Cllr Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East) asked the Islington Council leader for an update on the day centre.

Cllr Richard Watts said: “We have over 14,000 people on our housing waiting list – we are elected on a housing manifesto.

“We do view the Sotheby Mews site as an opportunity to help some of the waiting list [...]

“Clearly we need to work closely with residents,” he said. “But there is a brilliant Roundhouse building being built.

“The Roundhouse is working towards a March completion date, at that point we will restart those conversations with residents.”

Cllr Watts also suggested there are places service users might be able to go in Blackstock Road.

“We will work with users of Sotheby Mews,” said Cllr Watts. “If there are other solutions we are open to conversations around that.”

“I thank you for committing to keep talking with residents,” said Cllr Russell.

“Can you, given that it’s Christmas, give users comfort that they not going to be asked to move until at least the council has appropriate places [for the service users to go]?

The Islington leader said he’d made this promise before and would keep to it.

“Users of Sotheby Mews are very important and we will make sure there are the right services for them,” he said.

“The other people we should think about at Christmas are homeless families who will get represented on that site and it will change their lives.”

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