Save the WG Delipod
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The recent decision to terminate the lease of Willesden Green Library’s Delipod Hub café has caused an outpouring of community support. We believe the decision to terminate their lease – regardless of the doubtless complex intricacies of the case – is a mistake and flies in the face of Brent’s stated aims to improve Willesden Green High Street.
After countless years of neglect, Willesden Green has recently started to show signs of growth and development; this is in large part due to the work of community minded individuals within the community coming together. Our partnership with Brent Council seeks to improve our environment, reduce crime and foster growth on our High Street and has started to yield meaningful results. The small successes we have witnessed this past year have been helped by The Delipod Hub both as a focus of community activity and as a base for the community to meet and launch our campaigns. During the recent Rising Star High Street Award judges’ day, Brent Council touted The Delipod as a focal point for their consideration. Away from the watchful glare of media scrutiny, it’s pride of place at the epicentre of Willesden Green’s community hub should continue to be championed by the council.
Among Brent’s stated ambitions is to encourage the public to spend locally. You employ a full time Town Centre Manager to promote growth and regeneration on our High Street. In a peculiar turn of events, until mere weeks ago, the Town Centre Manager was excluded from any involvement in this matter.
While business rates are beyond your control and remit, we are aware it is within Brent Council’s gift to make rent reductions. It is the community’s understanding, The Delipod has been communicating through appropriate channels for over one year. They have patiently awaited an answer from Brent Council on a possible rent reduction. We also understand the owners were led to believe there was consensus within the council supporting a rent reduction; a reduction that would allow them to operate successfully while continuing to provide Willesden Green’s community hub with a much-needed resource. As happens, the decision-making process became a protracted episode prompting the assignment of this case across several different asset managers, until the most recent one issued a final ultimatum without benefit of a rent reduction.
If Brent Council is serious about investing in our local community, creating a thriving cultural centre hub within the main library and helping our town centre to flourish, then the community believes The Delipod Hub should be viewed as an asset of community value. Brent must allow its community value to take precedent over commercial considerations.
Assuming the council has made full consideration of the financial issues any business utilising this space will face in managing both the rates and the rent, we have to ask, under current parameters, whom do Brent Council envision will be capable of achieving success? There is understandable concern among the community this space will, in future, welcome a spate of short-term cafes offering no semblance of continuity or stability. This is not in keeping with Brent’s well-publicised ambition for the borough or with the Town Centre Manager and community vision for Willesden Green. Willesden Green deserves an equal chance to grow and develop along with other parts of the borough. If small, start-up businesses cannot expect and/or receive support from Brent Council how do you propose we achieve growth for the area and beyond?
We respectfully believe this decision to be short-sighted. Brent Council has a responsibility to represent the many while considering the long-term impact of removing yet another highly valued and much-loved facility from a ward fighting to devise a better place to live. We urge you to reconsider this misdirected decision.
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