Village Hall Sold to Charitable Foundation
Community groups can continue to use Bulwer Street centre
Shepherds Bush Village Hall has been saved from closure after Hammersmith & Fulham Council sold it to a London charitable foundation, the Wigoder Family Foundation.
H & F Council says following lengthy negotiations, the Village Hall in Bulwer Street has been sold to the Wigoder Family Foundation, allowing the council to spend the proceeds of the sale on front-line services.
In February 2011, the council chose to sell the hall and seven other buildings. This, it said, was in order to reduce its historic debt, which at the time stood at £133 million.
The Wigoder Family Foundation was established with an endowment from entrepreneur and Conservative Party supporter Charles Wigoder, with the aim of supporting a wide range of charitable causes.
The building is occupied by several popular community groups, including the Shepherds Bush Families Project, West and North West London Vietnamese Association and the West London School of Dance.
During the last year, the council has worked closely with these groups to find a solution that would keep the centre open and has even offered them first right of refusal. When a deal proved out of their reach, the groups made contact with the Wigoder Family Foundation, who has now signed on the dotted line after agreeing a price with the council.
Cllr Joe Carlebach, cabinet member for community care said: “In the true spirit of localism, the council pledged from the very outset to work with the current occupiers of the building to find an amicable solution.
"We said all along that we would not just take the money and run, so I am delighted that we have found a way to keep the hall open while reducing the burden on taxpayers.
"The unprecedented nature of the current economic climate means that if we are serious about protecting libraries, voluntary sector grants and services for the vulnerable we need to look elsewhere to make savings.
"Taxpayers have told us that they would prefer us to sell some buildings and I am sure they will be pleased that we have been able to keep the centre open at no cost to them.
"We are hugely proud of the contribution that the groups based at Bulwer Street make to the borough and we are delighted that they shall be remaining."
A Wigoder Family Foundation spokesman said: " The foundation was deeply concerned when it heard about the intended closure of this much loved community resource, which had been providing space to a number of extremely worthwhile causes for over 20 years.
"Working closely with Hammersmith & Fulham Council, we are delighted to have been able to secure the purchase of the Village Hall, and thus provide the occupying charities with long-term accommodation on an affordable basis."
The West London School of Dance currently hire out the ground floor hall of the building and will continue to do so to the existing hirers under the new arrangements.
The school's director, Anna du Boisson, said: " It is absolutely wonderful that the council has recognised the importance of ballet and dance in the community. We are now in the process of creating a world class studio in an extraordinary space. It is great that Shepherds Bush will now be put on the map as a centre for classical ballet."
H & F Council says for the first time in 26 years its historic debt, which was once as high as £176million, is below £100million, meaning that debt repayments have been reduced by £7.1million a year.
The council has not yet disclosed the sale price of the Village Hall.
April 3, 2012