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Black bookshop sets up defence fund

DEFENCE FUND: Centerprise Trust Community and Arts Centre

A £20,000 funding appeal has come from the head of Centerprise, one of the UK’s oldest black bookshops and community centres.

Emmanuel Amevor, who held a public meeting to discuss raising funds last night (Sept 10), said the Centerprise Trust Community and Arts Centre in Dalston, east London needs public help to raise £20k to fight an eviction court battle with Hackney council, scheduled for October 15 at Central London County Court.

"We are faced with a legal bill of minimum £20,000 to fight this grave injustice. Please contribute to the Centerprise Defence Fund," he said.

Officials and their supporters have been fighting to save the bookshop and community centre for more than one year.

They are calling on the black community to help save the centre, which also runs a restaurant and offers Saturday classes in English, maths and science to local children aged five to 18.

More than 800 people have so far signed an online petition to keep the centre from closing.

The centre's representatives said they believed they had used a grant to purchase the building years ago. In addition, they said council officials want to raise rent levels for the Kingsland High Street-based from £10 per year to £37,000 per year.

Amevor told The Voice in August: "We got this building under the Inner City Partnership Fund programme in 1983/84. The building was bought for us after successfully winning a competitive application. Instead of giving us a cheque they bought the building for us. Now they want to move from peppercorn rent to market rent, which would be £37,000 per year.”

Hackney council said: "We would much rather that this issue with Centerprise did not end up in court, but the current rent of £10 a week for a double shop-front, two floors and a basement on a busy high street is not a rent level that could continue for any organisation."

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