The Council, which announced its firesale of buildings way back in July 2010, gave 20 charities one months' notice to get out in December. That gave them four weeks, which included the Christmas and New Year break.
The services include the Iraqi Association; Iranian Association and the Association of Afghans in UK. Some are moving into Norland House, Hammersmith which isn’t ready yet.
The Iranian Association had nowhere to go and had to involve a solicitor on Monday to get a stay of execution until Saturday, so they can move into temporary accomodation.They are one of only 64 Citizenship Test Centres Nationwide, and have had to suspend their contract for that losing £2,600 per week, until they get sorted.
Andy Slaughter MP has sent the letter below to the Chief Executive of the Council demanding an answer the same day. I'm told by his office that they received a terse response disputing the timescales, but not much more.
In fairness to the West London Free School, this is not their doing. I once called Toby Young the "evictor in chief" in reference to this dark day eventually coming, which he rightly challenged. No, this is a question of priorities to me - low taxes or these sort of services for people who have nowhere else to go.
And why are they here, some of them? Iraqis. Consider the cost in lives of the Iraq war, which by most estimates is between 100,000 and 150,000 lives. Afghans. The war isn't even over. They may be unknown to most of us but the people needing these services are real enough. And they're here in large part because of actions we took in their countries, in Iraq's case possibly ilegally.
This is what the cut backs look like to real people in H&F, folks.
1115 UPDATE WEDNESDAY - The Council has been in touch, and they have a very different view of things. They describe the new venue that some - not all - of the charities being evicted will be moving to on the Edward Woods Estate near the Bush as a "state-of-the-art community hub" and that they've spent £655,000 doing up formerly derelict pram sheds into office space so that they can be used by a number of the borough’s voluntary groups, charities and not-for-profit organisations. The community hub will be split between the ground floors of the Edward Woods blocks of Stebbing, Norland, Poynter and Boxmoor Houses, with the Boxmoor facility likely to be used as the main base for the hub.
Cllr Joe Carlebach, cabinet member for community care, has this to say:
“Hammersmith & Fulham has a vibrant and thriving voluntary sector and we have protected these vital organisations and services despite the severe budget pressures that we face. This new hub will help us to provide better, more modern facilities for our voluntary organisations and we have been working closely with them to ensure their needs are met. I am sure that all of the groups who take up the opportunity will be very pleased with their new home and we will be working hard to make sure that local residents reap the benefits of this fantastic deal.”
I'm told that those charities who are able to move in will need to do so "in a phased manner from early 2012 with a launch event planned for later in the year" What they are supposed to do in the meantime is less clear.
A Council spokesman told me this morning that:
"Organisations interested in renting space at the hub will be asked to complete an application process which has been developed, with priority given to those that meet local priorities, including delivering services that benefit local residents and contribute to the community hub ethos."