Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Hammersmith Irish Cultural Centre saved

The future of the Irish Centre has been secured after Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council struck a deal to sell it to the centre’s board of directors. The news comes after the Irish Government, after expressing it's "disappointment" with H&F Council stepped in and provided Irish tax payers cash to enable the centre to be purchased.

The Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith (ICCH) has now formally agreed to buy the building, after they were able to raise funds and secure this grant from the Irish government.

The centre will now be redeveloped to provide a new Community Centre on the lower floors with residential accommodation on the upper floors. There will also be a café, bar, concert hall, offices, classrooms and rooms for hire, subject to planning permission.

Cllr Joe Carlebach, H&F Council cabinet member for community care, said: 
“This is a fantastic deal for both the Irish community and local taxpayers as we have managed to secure the future of the popular community centre and improve the council’s finances at the same time 
“The harsh reality of the economic situation has dictated that in order to concentrate our funding on services such as voluntary sector grants, child protection, services for the vulnerable and elderly we have had to sell this and other buildings. 
“However, we have always said that this process would not be a fire sale and I am delighted that we have been able to work closely with the Irish community and government to secure the future of the centre. 
“The council is immensely proud of the borough's rich Irish heritage so it is particularly pleasing that we have found a positive solution that benefits our Irish community while at the same time reducing the burden for H&F taxpayers. I would like to pay tribute to Jim O'Hara and his team at the Irish Cultural Centre for the constructive and very professional way they have handled the negotiations.”
Jim O’Hara, Chairman of the Irish Cultural Centre, said: 
"We are delighted that the Irish Cultural Centre and the council have reached agreement on the sale and purchase of the building. Since the decision to sell the building was made in 2011, the centre's directors along with the council and its officers have worked constructively together to reach a settlement that was satisfactory to all parties. Now that this has been achieved, I wish to thank the council, on behalf of the centre's directors, management and its many users, for the cooperative spirit in which the negotiations have been conducted and which have now culminated in securing the long term future of the Irish Cultural Centre. I also wish to thank the Irish government for its vital support in enabling us to arrive at this successful conclusion."
The ICCH will be submitting a planning application for the works to the council later in the year.

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