Fears over future of ‘stay and play’ at Highbury Fields
Town Hall under fire as Bandstand is earmarked for demolition
06 March, 2020 — By Calum Fraser
QUESTIONS have been raised about the council’s commitment to an “affordable stay and play” service in Highbury Fields after the environment chief failed to say how long they will fund it for.
Islington Council has lined up a contract with Christ Church Highbury to move the Highbury Bandstand One O’Clock Club into a newly built community centre.
But environment chief Labour councillor Rowena Champion has not said whether they will commit to more than 10 years of funding.
The council has repeatedly said they are “committed” to a stay and play service in the area but workers at the Bandstand, which has been earmarked for demolition, have said that the fact the Town Hall cannot say clearly how long they will continue to fund the service proves their lack of commitment.
Highbury Fields Association chairwoman Kate Pothalingam said: “The council’s offer to the Bandstand leaves their long-term future in doubt. The agreement with Christ Church is for just 10 years and, although it is very kind of them to work with the council to make the space available, sadly it may not be enough to preserve this unique and much-loved stay and play facility.
“The Bandstand lost a significant amount of council funding a few years ago and it’s a great shame that the council, which seems willing to fund other projects, isn’t able to do more for the Bandstand.”
Cllr Champion said: “We have worked hard to ensure that vital stay and play sessions can continue to be provided locally by the Highbury Fields Bandstand Group.”