Brent Council’s threat to demolish charity’s home

Harlesden’s Mission Dine Club faces eviction over council plans to bulldoze centre

A WELL LOVED charity could become homeless after the council announced plans to demolish its community centre.

The Mission Dine Club (MDC), in Fry Road, Harlesden, provides lunch clubs, social events, and hospital visits for elderly and disabled people across Brent.

But now in its 25th year, organisers at the charity have put their anniversary celebrations on ice while they fight to save their centre.

Brent Council, which owns the land the club is built although does not contribute towards its running costs, is proposing to demolish the club and use the land to expand neighbouring Newfield Primary School.

Dame Betty Asafu-Adjaye, who set up the club in 1985, said: “I was so upset when I heard the news I cried. The letter was the first I had heard of the plans.

“Elderly people in the area rely on us to give them hot food, and they need the centre – it gives them a place where they can socialise and be happy.

Most Read

“But Brent is going to take that all away.”

In a letter sent to Dame Betty at the end of October, Brent Council informed her of plans to end the her lease in August, demolish the building, and use the site to create an extra entry form at Newfield Primary.

The council claim The Mission Dine Club owes �20,762 in unpaid rent and has repeatedly resisted requests to settle its debts, and that this, combined with a pressing need for school places, left them with no option.

But Betty, who was made a Dame in 1997 for her tireless charity work, and her supporters have vowed to fight the plans.

Ms Serwah, who runs BTWSC, a Brent charity which used the arts to tackle social exclusion, has written to Brent Council to oppose the demolition.

She said: “We are not suggesting that Newfield Primary School should not expand, but this should not be at the expense of MDC and its vulnerable service users.” Brent Council Leader Cllr Ann John said: “The council recognises the aim of Mission Dine to support elderly and disadvantaged young people but the educational needs of local children are more important priorities.

“We have been very patient with Mission Dine over their rent arrears but the council is facing huge financial cutbacks and we can’t put up with this any longer.”

The operation of the building was grant aided by the council and used for clients who came from a nearby day centre, but the grant was withdrawn over a year ago.

Dame Betty says that without financial support from the council, she will not be able to pay the rent.

A public meeting against the plans is being held at the centre at 7.30pm on January 18.