Peaceful protest as £85,000 Ashburton library fight continues

Councillors Steve O'Connell and Vidhi Mohan joined with His Grace Outreach Church supporters before the meeting began

Councillors Steve O'Connell and Vidhi Mohan joined with His Grace Outreach Church supporters before the meeting began

First published in News
Last updated
Croydon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Churchgoers have transformed themselves into peaceful protestors in their ongoing battle to turn a disused library into a community centre.

Members of His Grace Outreach Church filled the public gallery at the town hall for the recent full council meeting to ask why their £85,000 bid for the old Ashburton library site was not accepted.

It was agreed by the old Conservative administration but when Labour took control of the council in May the sale was stopped because they believe the building was massively undervalued.

Questioning the council leader at the meeting Pastor Bola Thomas asked him what his intentions are for the building.

Councillor Tony Newman said: "Our intention is for community use but our ambition is for the whole park, not just the building.

"We want to see the whole park enhanced.

"There comes a point when we have to respect the democratic will of the people.

"We have a duty to the public purse, the building is worth considerably more [than £85,000] and we have to ensure we have a park and a building for the whole community."

When His Grave Outreach Church supporters left the public gallery after the meeting they launched into a rendition of We Shall Overcome, the protest song which became the unofficial anthem for the American civil rights movement in the 1960s.

A Croydon Council spokesman said: "Officers are currently considering a range of possible options with the aim of achieving a better financial solution for Croydon taxpayers and a wider range of community uses for local people.

"The council is looking at the park as a whole rather than just the building in isolation from its setting as it is felt this is a more appropriate way of assessing the various alternatives.

"We will be holding a stakeholders meeting in September and we will be calling the friends group together again to seek their views.”

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