Return the Barbican community centre to the people of York!

Return the Barbican community centre to the people of York!

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Barbican Community Centre started this petition to City of York Council

The Barbican Community Centre began as an occupation intended to positively transform neglected land in the centre of York, opposite the York barbican on Kent road.

The site, as many will remember, used to exist as the Barbican Baths, a much loved public swimming pool, crèche and sauna, before the land was sold and its buildings were demolished. The land has been shamefully neglected under the ownership of Persimmon homes Ltd, who for the past 15 years have failed to respect the cherished memories of the space, opting instead to leave the land empty in order to profit from price inflation whilst offering nothing to the local community. 

After years of broken promises, including a public consultation, the wishes of those local to York have been painfully ignored. 

We, the founders of the Barbican Community Centre, know that this is wrong and the land should belong to the People of York. We secured the site on 17th June. As we laid the foundations for a community centred space, we picked litter, built structures and planned to grow food for local people amidst many more projects. We also offered a safe and welcoming setting for travellers and homeless people to stay.

However, on 25th June, the land was reclaimed by Persimmon. Persimmon achieved this by hiring enforcement agents, who violently, and most likely illegally, evicted the site. During the eviction, one person was assaulted and sustained injuries to their neck and hand. This goes far beyond the definition of "reasonable force" legally permitted.

Persimmon homes have therefore once again proven that they do not care about people. They are not motivated by concern for health, wellbeing or happiness. They act only to secure future profits for themselves and their wealthy shareholders.  

We the undersigned call on the City of York Council to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order to buy back the land for £1 and return the Barbican Community Centre to the People of York.

As a public body, York Council have the power to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order. This is a legal function that allows them to compel the sale of land for "the greater public good". 

The Barbican Community Centre achieved more in seven days than Persimmon did over 15 years. Left in the hands of Persimmon, the land will degenerate once again before being used to build overpriced student accommodation. This maintains the wrong precedent – namely that private developers can spitefully disregard communities, commit violence and withhold access to natural resources with impunity. 

York Council has the power and opportunity to change this. Rightfully returning the land to the People of York could act as a catalyst for broader change. It's time to set a new normal. We want a city that cares more for people and planet than profit. We want vibrant common spaces which foster connection, wellbeing and which, through shared democratic governance, allow community members to carefully utilise the lands' resources, prioritising their own needs over the greedy and selfish intentions of private developers.

York council must do the right thing. They must issue a compulsory purchase order to Persimmon Homes.

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