There are a number of questions that I suggest the public ask at potential hustings:
1. Do you support the bid of the ANC to own and act as lead partner at the former Lilian Baylis site?
This is the key question. Labour (so far) appear to be supporting this end, and are thus likely to garner the support of the ANC when it comes to winning votes, but are they doing so by sacrificing the LGBT populace opinion? On the other hand, would the Lib Dems, Conservative or Green party really be able to do any better?
2. How would you respond to the fears of the local LGBT community who are concerned about a public asset landing in the hands of an organisation that (whilst currently respectful towards them) might struggle to hold that homosexuality is a sin, at the same time as welcoming LGBT meetings at a public space?
3. Do you consider it better for the site to be held in trust with a local organisation or for it to be owned by a group, such as the ANC, outright?
4. What form of oversight would you like to see put in place to ensure that a former council building remained in inclusive community use?
5. At a time when council house rents are rising (and housing is scarce), is it possible for the site to be partially sold off for public use, at the same time as redeveloped for ANC, Ethelred and SAZ use?
See below for a very potted history. I'm just quoting some of the main bits that I've found, but I'll elaborate if any commentator says I've forgotten anything major.
1. In January 2005, the Lilian Baylis School moved to a new building.
2. The Lambeth Council Unitary Development Plan (proposed by the Lib Dem council in 2005, but published by Labour unchanged in 2007) says of the former LB site: "(b) Appropriate proposals for the Grade II listed Lilian Baylis school and its grounds would be supported... to enable redevelopment of the site for a mix of uses, including a mixed tenure housing scheme, community and leisure uses."
Labour welcomed the idea, in 2007 (proposed by the Lib Dems), that the site might be used for (amongst other things), housing. There were some older proposals for the site under the Lib Dems (which did support demolition of it), but these were not approved by the Lib Dem Council of the time and the above Lib Dem proposal went through unchanged by Labour.
3. Lambeth Council community consultation published by external agency in February 2006. Unfortunately, response rate was only about 17% and local people wanted the site to be used for leisure, housing (public, not private) and community purposes.
4. On 16th March 2006, the RCDT reported breakthroughs made at the Area Committee meeting by the then local Lib Dems who argued in favour of:
"a. Keeping part of the Lilian Baylis site for community and sports facilities for local people
b. Keeping a gymnasium if possible- and all potential purchasers to consider keeping the gym
c. Money from the sale of the site to go to new recreation centre and swimming pool in North Lambeth
d. Further consultation with local people about what’s on offer and what’s best for the community
e. A local project board, including residents and local groups, to oversee community provision on the site"
5. The "breakthrough" terminology used by the RCDT was disputed by Labour's Sam Townend (the naughty one) , who argued that an Area Committee can't make decisions, that the statements were ambiguous, that there was no "breakthrough" and the RCDT was being party political. The RCDT then requested a statement from Sam about the Labour position (this is made in March 2006, and involves two councillors still in position in 2009):
"‘We are committed to retaining and enhancing the current community, leisure and sporting uses of the site and adding to it educational and other social uses of the site by and for local people. Importantly the retention for the use by the community of the three gyms and sports hall. We want to see an expansion of the uses of the site by local people including potentially by Ethelred nursery..., use of the education facilities...... and the Sports Action Zone, and the large number of other local community organisations... We won’t allow the loss of the open playing spaces if at all possible. This does not mean that the site necessarily has to remain or entirely remain in the ownership of the Council. My preference would be for ownership to be transferred to a Community Trust, run and managed by local people. This obviously depends on if there is sufficient interest and commitment from people to carry out this work.... We would also like to see Ethelred TMO residents play a role in such a Trust as the site is in the middle of their estate."
6. Elections were held in May 2006. All three Lib Dem councillors were voted out. 3 new Labour councillors were voted in. Until May 2006, Lambeth Council (Lib Dems / Conservatives) apparently wanted to sell off the former Lilian Baylis School site on Lollard St. However, it does appear (above) that despite wanting to sell it off, they also wanted to retain it for use by local people.
7. On 17th March 2008, the Lambeth Council (Labour) agreed: "that All Nations Centre be placed ‘at the centre of any development at Old Lilian Baylis as a lead partner with security of tenure on an appropriate part of the site consistent with their needs.’" Quite an important statement, but nothing is said about ownership.
8. The Council (Labour) declared in January 2009 that it has chosen 3 "partners". These are: All Nations Church, Ethelred Nursery and Sports Action Zone (SAZ). It's leaflet is sketchy. It does not mention any issues related to ownership, governance or oversight. It does not mention relations with local community organisations. It has lost sight of many of the original organisations that might once have been involved. Are the Ethelred TMO still involved?
I made a mistake here in thinking that Mark Harrison (Labour) was attempting to save the site from the Council's plan in January 2009 and do something new (that was my error), but he has asserted here that he is campaigning in support of ongoing Labour council plans, and is concerned that, "The Lib Dems have recently been heard to be talking about selling off the site and abandoning the negotiations to set up a community trust to buy the site.". I've asked for clarification on that point, and I doubt we'll know any more until the Lib Dems answer their questions.
It's all rather unfair on Mark because he's the only one publically proposing any substantive policy so it looks as though I'm picking on him, which I don't intend to do.
Phewww.... sheer exhaustion has set in... Quite frankly, I'm surprised that four years have passed (part Lib Dem control, part Labour control), and that nothing appears to have happened. The current Council has proceeded with their campaign despite only a 16% community response to their consultation.
Have any readers got far enough to make any comments?