IN PRAISE OF A “FAILED EXPERIMENT”……
By now most of you will know that we cease to exist as of Saturday 30th April.
We requested a meeting with both the Director and Chair of the Trustees of the Westway Development Trust. However, we only met with Martyn Freeman, the Director, last Wednesday 20th April to negotiate a ‘stay of execution’ which would give us more time to pay off our arrears of rent as well as organise the music for the Trust’s 40th Anniversary which we have been asked to do. But this is not to be. You need to read the press release which is on the Trust’s website: westway.org to get the full flavour of their plans for our present venue.
We don’t feel that any expertise has been, or will be, drawn on from us, in spite of the years of involvement in both running the Inn on the Green (nearly 6 years) and managing youth and community centres for over 30 years in the locality, which always worked in a collaborative way to deliver a programme that was eclectic, inclusive and cross-cultural – and that’s exactly what we brought to Inn on the Green.
We have not been included in the plans to change the layout and nature of the venue. Even to this day we do not know exactly what building works will take place but we know the plan is to do away with the bar in the main area of the bar (a healthy iiving facility can not either display or sell alcohol) and their idea is to only have a ‘bottle bar’ facing into the function room. The concept of a bottle bar is something we never mooted nor agreed to.
We initially welcomed the plan for the reduction in both space and time of our use of the venue. We have definitely suffered over the last two years with the recession and our efforts to create more daytime use by getting a lunchtime trade going did not work out; in fact it was a drain on our limited resources. We cut our opening hours back which meant a reduction in staff. We let our cleaning company go which also cut costs and the cleaning has been carried out by the staff (paid, of course).
Once the sun is out, as it is now, people want to sit outdoors at a street café, as we do ourselves, enjoying the ambience of Portobello Road - but they are not community café prices. There have always been drawbacks to our location but we have worked with this as best as possible; however, our attempts at a community café didn’t work.
We have continued to pay rent as soon as we have been able to do so. Some may argue that the £28K we have been in deficit by could be broken down to about £60 per week which, although not intended as such by us, was a small amount for the Trust to pay for the amount of community provision in terms of people, art, theatre and music to name just a small amount of what we have done 7 days a week for 6 years.
Toward the end of the WDT press statement they state that their plans are an experiment – which is interesting in that we had quoted to us that we were part of an experiment which has failed, (meaning designating the space to a community bar and venue) – deluded as we may be, we thought we were a success! What do you think?
In order for us to get a look-in in the new plans we must have cleared our debt, so if you want us still, even in this (unknown) limited capacity, and if you want to influence the shape of what is to come – as you ought to be able to do - then please help us by donating to clear this debt. Once we have vacated the premise, we will continue to keep you in touch with developments from our perspective. We’ll keep this website alive, with lots of photos from over the years.
And, most importantly, our sincere apologies to all those people and groups who had booked us right through til September. Contact the Trust as to what you’re supposed to do now.
Tina Alkaff – 07976 569 259
Dave Pitt - 07984 420 530