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Legal letter heightens rent row at Bradford community centre
9:32pm Tuesday 17th June 2014 in News
LANDLORDS of a community centre in Bradford have stuck a solicitor's letter up on its gates demanding money from the committee that runs it.
Staff arriving for work were met by the sight of the letter fixed by brown parcel tape at the entrance to Fagley Youth and Community Centre.
The letter from Schofield Sweeney solicitors, on behalf of Newlands Community Association, demands money from a £15,000 rent bill is paid up by next Wednesday and centre staff say it is the next step to evicting them and shutting them down for good.
Last month the Telegraph & Argus reported how centre bosses were shocked to get the invoice they claimed was “out of the blue” and part of a push to get them off site so it could be sold off, potentially making way for a new free school.
Centre campaigners claimed the bill went against a rent-free arrangement with Newlands and its board of managers sent a letter to Newlands questioning it but had so far heard nothing back.
Newlands has already asked the centre to voluntarily surrender its lease and move into a modern disused church half a mile away, but that proposal had been met by resistance.
And the T&A has also revealed a Sikh education trust is planning on opening a new engineering academy on the community centre site in September – six months before the lease officially runs out.
Bradford Council, the Fagley site’s previous owner, has since told Newlands it is not minded to lift restrictions it imposed at the time of sale which limit what the land could be sold on for.
But Councillor Ann Wallace (Lib Dem, Eccleshill), who is also centre board member said: “This obviously isn't stopping Newlands from wanting us out. This legal letter is basically saying if we don't pay up, we're going to get evicted.
"It's harassment and it's bullying."
Councillor Ruth Billheimer (Lab, Eccleshill) went to look at the letter when she was contacted by a worried neighbour.
She said: "Newlands are behaving very unprofessionally and have been putting undue pressure on the Community Association throughout this dispute."
It is understood the community centre is now trying to seek its own legal advice.
No-one at Newlands Community Association was available to comment despite repeated requests by the T&A.
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