27 October 2009

Peckham Rye common toilets: a bog standard update

Peckham Rye residents will be well aware that the public toilets based on Peckham Rye Common, here, have been closed up for a substantial amount of time. The reason for this is because Liberal Democrat Councillors who run Southwark are trying to let the building out for commercial purposes, rather than investing to bring it back into community use.

At the July community council meeting we were told the amazing news that the council hadn't even checked if they were allowed to let the site out, even though they had gone so far as to secure a tenant. Despite consistent warnings from local people, they hadn't bothered to check if there were legal restrictions on the common land. (Yes, the clue should have been in the name). In any case, in July we were told that this issue was going to be investigated as a matter of urgency. At tonight's Community Council meeting local residetns were told that the council is . . . wait for it . . . still looking into the restrictions on the land.

I asked the council officer attending (who, in fairness, was not directly responsible for this debacle) if there was any explanation as to how a council could try to let out a building on common land without first checking if it had the right to do so. He was unable to explain.

My hope is that we will eventually discover that the council should not have let out ancient common land and the toilets will be returned to community use. Renata, Victoria and I will keep pushing hard for that result.

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