Artists brushed off in library shake-up plans
PUBLISHED: 15:54 22 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:56 25 August 2010
ELDERLY artists are being forced to quit their paint brushes after being given the boot from a popular council-run venue. Members of Brampton Art Group, Welling, were shocked to receive a letter from Bexley council s library division giving them one mont
ELDERLY artists are being forced to quit their paint brushes after being given the boot from a popular council-run venue.
Members of Brampton Art Group, Welling, were shocked to receive a letter from Bexley council's library division giving them one month's notice to vacate a hall in Welling Library.
The council thanked them for seven years' income but said that a new deal given to a private firm was to "maximise the asset potential."
Alternative venues have been offered to the 44-strong group but their secretary, Alan Hinkley, said they are either too small or unsuitable.
The best option is now through the Salvation Army hall in St Mary's Church, Welling.
Mr Hinkley said: "The members feel they are being ridden roughshod over.
"We haven't been given much notice when you think how long we have been there, although they are only obliged to give us two weeks.
"If we can't find a suitable venue the group, which has been going over 30 years, is under threat.
"The sad thing is we had a lot of interest at our stall at the Danson Festival, but we have had to turn people away."
He met with a library chief last Wednesday and leisure and arts councillor Peter Catterall, claiming they were "sympathetic" to their needs.
If they are forced out of Welling, they also stand to lose grants from the War Memorial Fund.
He added: "There is a shortage of venues because a lot of halls are booked during the day by children's nurseries.
"Unfortunately the council seems to be tied to a government commitment to provide an IT training facility.
"We are not the only ones to lose out, there is also a karate school and a women's patchwork and quilters club."
The group was told, unofficially, the hall has been let to a private IT firm for £15,000 per year, more than the Brampton group's members can compete with. Bexley council declined to comment.