Hackney Council Statement: No wish to evict Centerprise

The property at 136-138 Kingsland High Street belongs to Hackney Council who has been the only legal owner of that building since purchasing it in 1984. The Council did not purchase the property on behalf of Centerprise or any other organisation, and Centerprise have never had any legal interest in the property beyond that of a tenant. Centerprise s claims to the contrary were the subject of extensive legal proceedings in 2004. Those proceedings resulted in a High Court trial in 2004 in which the claims were dismissed by the Court and Centerprise ordered to pay substantial legal costs to the Council. Centerprise s attempts to appeal that judgment to the Court of Appeal were also dismissed.

Centerprise had been paying £10 per week rent on a double shop-front property on a busy high street, which is not a rent level that could continue for any organisation. Despite attempts from the Council, Centerprise has failed to adequately engage with us over several years regarding a new lease. The Council is continuing with the legal proceedings unless a new lease is successfully agreed with Centerprise. The court hearing date of 11 November 2011 was cancelled to enable the mediation process to commence as requested by Centerprise. In the meantime a new hearing date is awaited from the court.

Despite this, Centerprise has taken no steps to urgently progress mediation of the legal claim. Separately, Council officers dealing with voluntary sector lettings have met with Centerprise and agreed to meet again. The purpose of these meetings is to ensure Centerprise fully understands the Council s Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) Lettings policy, including the eligibility criteria for such leases, to give them every opportunity to apply for a lease under that policy if they so wish.

If Centerprise do apply for a VCS lease the Council will assess the application in the usual way against the Council s normal eligibility criteria. It is important to clarify meetings between Centerprise and Council Officers dealing with the VCS lettings are not "negotiations" for a new lease, but an opportunity for Centerprise to demonstrate that they come within the VCS Scheme. They will thereafter need to negotiate a new lease with the Council’s Property Services to resolve the legal proceedings. If no new lease is entered into the legal proceedings will continue. The Council has already responded to the letter from Lynne Featherstone MP clarifying these matters to her