Anger at closure of community cafe in Kenton Recreation ground

Harrow Times: Supporters have rallied to support The Old Bowls Cafe Supporters have rallied to support The Old Bowls Cafe

Anger has greeted a threat to the future of a community cafe in a Harrow park.

The Old Bowls Cafe in Kenton Park has been threatened with closure by Harrow Borough Council, which has asked for the Friends of the Kenton Park Rec group to tender for the lease of the building.

Eugene Callinan has worked for the past five years and spent his own money to restore the dilapidated bowls club house into a cafe that hosts a number of community groups.

The 53-year-old said: “I have put so much work into this place and it's all for the community. I haven’t done it for the money and it’s just devastating that it might come to an end.

“Since we opened in August we have had such a great response from the community who can enjoy the whole park now.

“This place was a mess when I came here and we brought it back to life and we want to stay. It would be so disappointing if we had to close."

A campaign has now started among the community groups that use the building to save the cafe and the cause has been backed by Harrow Labour councillors Keith Ferry and Sue Anderson.

Cllr Ferry said: “Under our administration we gave Eugene the chance to take care of the park and the building.

“The community has built this and the council should be supporting the community to help run it.

“The model for Kenton Rec is how parks should be run. The council is getting less and less money to look after parks and we need to the community to join together and help maintain them."

Cllr Anderson said: "I've been visiting Kenton Rec, my local park, for over twenty years and have been thrilled to see the improvements since the friends group has been working in partnership with the council.

“The cafe has been run on a non-commercial basis with any money raised being ploughed back into the rec.”

A spokesman for Harrow council said: “We are extremely grateful to Eugene for the hard work that he and the Friends of Kenton Recreation Ground put into refurbishing this building.

“When this work was first done, the objective was to create a meeting point for the group and public to use on an ad-hoc basis.

“Last year the friends group told us that they wished to use the site permanently as a café.

“We informed them then that the normal process would be to open out this opportunity to anyone and that this arrangement would be beneficial to whoever holds the lease as it formalises the use of the building and provides security of tenure. 

“We would welcome any application from the friends group.”

Comments (9)

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8:08pm Fri 24 Jan 14

boseboy says...

Question's - Is this the same Cllr Ferry (plus others) who signed his name to a call-in for Political Games that effected a charities work, the charity hosts a number of community groups like the cafe and works with the Community and Volunteers etc.
Is this the same Cllr Anderson that upheld the call-in for Political Games that effected a charities work, the charity hosts a number of community groups like the cafe and works with the Community and Volunteers etc.
Answer - Yes, Political Games of the lowest order.
Question's - Is this the same Cllr Ferry (plus others) who signed his name to a call-in for Political Games that effected a charities work, the charity hosts a number of community groups like the cafe and works with the Community and Volunteers etc. Is this the same Cllr Anderson that upheld the call-in for Political Games that effected a charities work, the charity hosts a number of community groups like the cafe and works with the Community and Volunteers etc. Answer - Yes, Political Games of the lowest order. boseboy
  • Score: -1

7:20am Sat 25 Jan 14

Sue Anderson says...

Call-in committees take place where there are concerns that the process involved in the administration's decision making has been flawed in some way. Scrutiny councillors are required to look at such issues and judge whether the decision was made fairly, putting aside their own personal and party political views on the issue itself, whether it is Flash Musicals, Special Needs Transport or PRISM (the Public realm restructuring programme). I would urge more residents to come along to call- ins and see this in action.

In the case of the Kenton Rec cafe the decision was not made at Cabinet level so the call-in process does not apply, but it has highlighted the need for clear and unambiguous processes to ensure the relationship between the council and the voluntary sector is mutually sustaining and accountable.
Call-in committees take place where there are concerns that the process involved in the administration's decision making has been flawed in some way. Scrutiny councillors are required to look at such issues and judge whether the decision was made fairly, putting aside their own personal and party political views on the issue itself, whether it is Flash Musicals, Special Needs Transport or PRISM (the Public realm restructuring programme). I would urge more residents to come along to call- ins and see this in action. In the case of the Kenton Rec cafe the decision was not made at Cabinet level so the call-in process does not apply, but it has highlighted the need for clear and unambiguous processes to ensure the relationship between the council and the voluntary sector is mutually sustaining and accountable. Sue Anderson
  • Score: 4

10:14am Sun 26 Jan 14

ipsofacto says...

The Council has just abolished the post of Chief Executive. The salary of that post together with employment 'add-on' costs of National Insurance and Pension contributions probably comes to around £200,000. You do not need to be a mathematical genius to work out that a fraction of this saving will keep that cafe open. Cough up, Harrow Council. That cafe is providing a popular resource for the local community. Perhaps you can support that community initiative.
The Council has just abolished the post of Chief Executive. The salary of that post together with employment 'add-on' costs of National Insurance and Pension contributions probably comes to around £200,000. You do not need to be a mathematical genius to work out that a fraction of this saving will keep that cafe open. Cough up, Harrow Council. That cafe is providing a popular resource for the local community. Perhaps you can support that community initiative. ipsofacto
  • Score: 2

2:35pm Sun 26 Jan 14

Cllr Susan Hall says...

I am astounded that this is being whipped up by the Labour group. The rules of the Council are quite simple. If someone wants to occupy a building that is owned by the Council they have to go through the correct procedures so that it is transparent and fair. It could be that other residents would like to run a cafe from this Council owned building. Whether anyone else is interested or not it must be dealt with in a correct way. Eugene has been offered help to fill in the required application. I am waiting for a meeting with him and he has said that he will come and see me once his secretary has confirmed dates. Pictures of Eugene holding a Labour leaflet tells me that this is being taken over as a Political fight when in fact all it is is the Council Officers adhering to the procedures that have been in place for years. I am dissappointed that a wonderful volunteer is politicising this situation
I am astounded that this is being whipped up by the Labour group. The rules of the Council are quite simple. If someone wants to occupy a building that is owned by the Council they have to go through the correct procedures so that it is transparent and fair. It could be that other residents would like to run a cafe from this Council owned building. Whether anyone else is interested or not it must be dealt with in a correct way. Eugene has been offered help to fill in the required application. I am waiting for a meeting with him and he has said that he will come and see me once his secretary has confirmed dates. Pictures of Eugene holding a Labour leaflet tells me that this is being taken over as a Political fight when in fact all it is is the Council Officers adhering to the procedures that have been in place for years. I am dissappointed that a wonderful volunteer is politicising this situation Cllr Susan Hall
  • Score: -8

3:06pm Mon 27 Jan 14

pinns35 says...

I think that if the council is going to encourage more volunteer groups to run our parks, and looking at our finances, we are going to have to do this, then the council should not gripe and invoke its officious administrative procedures if the volunteer group decides to do something as worthy as bringing back into use a derelict building within the park.

Also, it's part of the activity of Harrow Council's opposition to highlight shortcomings in the ruling group. Stop bleating Susan, the Labour opposition are only doing their job. What you have to do now is apologise to the Friends of Harrow Rec and make some recompense for the hurt you have caused.
I think that if the council is going to encourage more volunteer groups to run our parks, and looking at our finances, we are going to have to do this, then the council should not gripe and invoke its officious administrative procedures if the volunteer group decides to do something as worthy as bringing back into use a derelict building within the park. Also, it's part of the activity of Harrow Council's opposition to highlight shortcomings in the ruling group. Stop bleating Susan, the Labour opposition are only doing their job. What you have to do now is apologise to the Friends of Harrow Rec and make some recompense for the hurt you have caused. pinns35
  • Score: 9

10:21am Wed 29 Jan 14

Harrow Dude says...

More back door shenanigans from Susie and her assemblage. I am sure that as the ruler of the London Borough of Hall, formerly known as London Borough Harrow Susie could've allowed them to stay and apply for a retrospective lease application, a bit like the 'beds in sheds' after four years. you give the impression that it is your Council Susie and my understanding is that you are more than willing to modify the rules when it is in you own interest. So why not now?
Surely if it was acceptable for them to use the premises as an ad-hoc meeting place then the request to use the site as a café is a simple change of use request.Why was there a need to evict the very people who have given up their own time and money to transform a rundown building that has been neglected by the council for years.
Now it's a valuable asset you kick out the very volunteers you harp on about recruiting.
It makes absolutely no sense Susie but I presuppose that all will become clear when the winning bidder of this 'normal process' is announced.
More back door shenanigans from Susie and her assemblage. I am sure that as the ruler of the London Borough of Hall, formerly known as London Borough Harrow Susie could've allowed them to stay and apply for a retrospective lease application, a bit like the 'beds in sheds' after four years. you give the impression that it is your Council Susie and my understanding is that you are more than willing to modify the rules when it is in you own interest. So why not now? Surely if it was acceptable for them to use the premises as an ad-hoc meeting place then the request to use the site as a café is a simple change of use request.Why was there a need to evict the very people who have given up their own time and money to transform a rundown building that has been neglected by the council for years. Now it's a valuable asset you kick out the very volunteers you harp on about recruiting. It makes absolutely no sense Susie but I presuppose that all will become clear when the winning bidder of this 'normal process' is announced. Harrow Dude
  • Score: 1

9:49pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Cllr Susan Hall says...

You are accusing me of doing something illegal so I suggest Harrow Dude you publish what and where as it is total rubbish. Applying for a lease is exactly what Eugene and the friends of the park are doing. Perhaps you should bear in mind that if someone starts to run a proper business in one of Harrows buildings then it has to be regularised - thats only fair. Public money has gone into this building something which has not been mentioned. I would therefore suggest Harrow Dude that you get your facts right and it would be good if you, and so many others, actually used your correct names, stand up like Will Stoodley and I do and be counted. Its so easy to shout accusations and lies when you are completely anonymous
You are accusing me of doing something illegal so I suggest Harrow Dude you publish what and where as it is total rubbish. Applying for a lease is exactly what Eugene and the friends of the park are doing. Perhaps you should bear in mind that if someone starts to run a proper business in one of Harrows buildings then it has to be regularised - thats only fair. Public money has gone into this building something which has not been mentioned. I would therefore suggest Harrow Dude that you get your facts right and it would be good if you, and so many others, actually used your correct names, stand up like Will Stoodley and I do and be counted. Its so easy to shout accusations and lies when you are completely anonymous Cllr Susan Hall
  • Score: -5

1:33pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Harrow Dude says...

The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Susie at no stage have I accused you of doing something illegal. what I said was "you are more than willing to modify the rules when it is in you own interest." If from that you have inferred something illegal then so be it. For the record I was referring to your attempt at removing the Chief Exec without adequate consultation hence 'modify the rules' The Friends of Kenton Recreation Ground have been treated appallingly and this has happened under your watch Susie. Do you think anyone is fooled by the statement released to the press it reads just like a Harrow Council press release or maybe that is just a coincidence far be it from me to suggest the whole thing was stage managed...I would suggest people are aware public money has gone into the building but how much of that money came from the pot central government puts aside specifically for such regrowth projects and how much from general funds. You remember the £1.8 million regeneration grant Harrow Council was awarded to improve the town centre, that was public money but correct me if I'm wrong but isn't this sort of funding additional to the funds you receive as a government grant?

So for clarity I have not accused you of doing anything illegal. The question was why now, and why couldn't they stay until (a) they applied for and secured the lease (b) someone else applied for and secured lease.
Why did they have to be evicted for the premises to be put out to tender?
The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Susie at no stage have I accused you of doing something illegal. what I said was "you are more than willing to modify the rules when it is in you own interest." If from that you have inferred something illegal then so be it. For the record I was referring to your attempt at removing the Chief Exec without adequate consultation hence 'modify the rules' The Friends of Kenton Recreation Ground have been treated appallingly and this has happened under your watch Susie. Do you think anyone is fooled by the statement released to the press it reads just like a Harrow Council press release or maybe that is just a coincidence far be it from me to suggest the whole thing was stage managed...I would suggest people are aware public money has gone into the building but how much of that money came from the pot central government puts aside specifically for such regrowth projects and how much from general funds. You remember the £1.8 million regeneration grant Harrow Council was awarded to improve the town centre, that was public money but correct me if I'm wrong but isn't this sort of funding additional to the funds you receive as a government grant? So for clarity I have not accused you of doing anything illegal. The question was why now, and why couldn't they stay until (a) they applied for and secured the lease (b) someone else applied for and secured lease. Why did they have to be evicted for the premises to be put out to tender? Harrow Dude
  • Score: 3

8:14am Wed 19 Feb 14

jande76959 says...

Disgraceful. It is a kick in the teeth for people working hard to contribute to their community. It is a loss of a fairly new but already valued community resource. It makes no sense economically either, there is no realistic prospect whatsoever of the building being rented out as a commercial cafe, that is completely unviable.
So much for the Tory's Big Society
Disgraceful. It is a kick in the teeth for people working hard to contribute to their community. It is a loss of a fairly new but already valued community resource. It makes no sense economically either, there is no realistic prospect whatsoever of the building being rented out as a commercial cafe, that is completely unviable. So much for the Tory's Big Society jande76959
  • Score: 0

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