Volunteers at No. 6 Somerleyton Road – the trouble-plagued Brixton community project – claim their efforts there are still being blocked by the group charged with running the programme.
They say they are often locked out of the premises and have recently had their power turned off. However these charges have been rejected by Brixton Green who manage the project.
In 2013, Lambeth Council agreed for Brixton Green to manage the building – a derelict kitchen – as a “meanwhile space” for use for the local community, as part of the wider regeneration of Somerleyton Road. The group also received money from the Big Lottery Fund for the programme.
But in April this year, some of the volunteers at the centre – where gardening, arts and sports projects have been run – told the Brixton Blog they could no longer get access to the building.
At the time, Brixton Green insisted no-one had been locked out. However, since then there have been continued reports of the building being locked when volunteers wished to use it.
In some instance, this has prevented some of them from gaining access to toilets. Now the situation appears to have worsened after volunteers complained they could now no longer get access to electricity.
Volunteers say that in general the project has been poorly managed. They say at least five different managers have been put in charge at different times while individual projects have been moved around the building.
One volunteer who put on an art display said doors leading to his exhibition had been locked constantly, preventing visitors from seeing his work.
Volunteer Boyd Hill said: “We work outside and have used an extension from a power point inside the building but this week the caretaker said he had been told to turn it off. The whole situation has been mismanaged.
“We’ve spent months and months here working on our projects for the community and now they just turn around and say they don’t want us. Brixton Green have not delivered on what they promised the community.”
Another volunteer Maria Santos added: “It’s very upsetting for us.There is no communication or engagement.
“We were asked to help out with the project for the benefit of the community but now we are just being pushed aside with no explanation.”
However, Brad Carroll, director of Brixton Green, said he thought the volunteers were behaving unreasonably. “There is a bigger picture and we need to not get distracted from it by arguing over toilets at Number Six.
“Somerleyton Road is a huge community project, 300 new homes will be provided and there will be jobs for local people.
“Brixton Green has worked hard to bring positive change to the area and I think we’re doing that. The community isn’t locked out of Number Six, they have to make sure they use it under the proper hire terms.”