Campaigners feel ‘betrayed’ following Upton Centre closure

Upton centre protesters at the town hall

Upton centre protesters at the town hall - Credit: Archant

Campaigners say they have been left “disappointed” and “betrayed” after cabinet members made a decision to permanently close the Upton Centre yesterday.

About 200 protesters gathered outside East Ham Town Hall on Thursday to show their support for the re-opening of the Claude Road community centre which was suddenly shut in December after engineers ruled the boiler did not comply with regulations.

During the council meeting, members agreed to close the centre and consult with residents on the future use of the site after a public consultation highlighted the need for community space and affordable housing.

A review from independent surveyors highlighted it could cost £2.9m to keep the centre open for five years and £5.2m for 20 years.

Following the meeting, campaigners told the Recorder that they “feel let down” by the council’s decision to close the centre.

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Spokesman for the centre, Miraj Patel, said: “I think the wider Indian community and the general population are deeply heartbroken by the decision, especially as the community centre has been at the forefront of many Indian festivals.”

He added: “As a community we feel the officers have not really worked with us to come to an amicable solution. What the community requires is a teetotal and a vegetarian centre, which can cater for the wider community.

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“The council have made the wrong decision.”

During the meeting, councillors raised concerns about how much it would cost to keep the centre open.

The six-week consultation also showed that 50 percent of the residents questioned had not heard of the centre.

Cllr Ken Clark, cabinet member for building communities, planning and regeneration, said: “Anyone who knows anything about the Upton Centre knows it’s a place of shared experiences, of shared joy, sadness, and important memories.

“I will not minimise the importance of those experiences: they are real and they matter. But this building is no longer fit for purpose.

“Our surveyors say that the failing boiler means that the building is no longer safe to use, and will cost many millions of pounds to bring back into use.”

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