Brixton Rec: Users call for written pledge to keep centre open

Brixton RecBrixton Rec users have criticised local councillors for not making a written commitment to keep the leisure centre open – despite a verbal pledge from the council’s leader that it would not be demolished.

Council leader Lib Peck told campaigners at a meeting last month that the council would not go ahead with a proposal to knock down the popular centre, which was once visited by Nelson Mandela.

But at a council meeting on Monday evening, Robyn Dasey, a member of the Brixton Rec Users’ Group, said she was worried because a key planning document published by the council did not commit to keeping the centre open.

“If the council does not amend the document to follow what it has committed to, then a large number of the Rec’s users will say they can’t trust the council, and they will have justification for that,” she said.

“The distrust level will be massive”, she added.

However, councillor Sally Prentice told Dasey: “I have no desire to cause more anxiety.”

She said that she and councillor Pete Robbins would work with the user group and try to reach an agreement about amending the planning document.

Cllr Peck also reassured users at the meeting: “You can take my guarantee that there is no intention to demolish the Rec.”

Cllr Prentice acknowledged that it was a “major mistake” for the council not to have held a meeting with users of the Rec before publishing a proposal to demolish the centre.

She said the council’s position was to “retain, refurbish and upgrade the Rec”, adding: “We are in conversations with [users] about refurbishing and upgrading the Rec and getting some time set aside for that…but I should also say that there are two other major projects going on in Streatham and Norwood so it will take time to allocate resources.”