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Campaigners demand Old Barn Community Centre reopens
Parents, children and campaigners pinned colourful balloons outside a disused community centre to highlight the wasted opportunities in East Finchley.
More than 50 people turned up to tie their balloons in protest outside The Old Barn Community Centre in Fallows Close, East Finchley on Thursday evening.
The building has been closed since a new board of trustees took over in July 2010 but a group of campaigners known as the Old Barn Action Group are determined to get the building reopened for public use.
William Hudson, spokesman for the group said: “The crux of the matter is the management aren’t following the requirements of their charitable status, their constitution or providing activities.
“For two years nothing has happened in that building and it remains empty.”
Ten-year-old Grace Cronshaw from East Finchley recalls using the centre regularly with her friends.
She said: “I have got so many memories of playing there with my friends. It was a big space to have tonnes of fun.
“I feel disappointed I can’t use it anymore. I would like it to reopen so we can use it for sports, drama, dance and music activities and a youth club.”
As well as a playground the Old Barn used to be home to a Monday youth club and other organisations including a Muslim prayer group.
Maureen Clemetson who runs the youth club said: “The kids loved coming to the Old Barn. At first we started off with four or five members and then all of a sudden we had 70-80 coming from as far as Cricklewood.
“But now they’ve been made to feel like nomads not being able to come here. They ask me all the time when can they come back.”
The local community are confused why the centre is shut-up and is not being used.
The Charity Commission said people have raised concerns about the governance of the Old Barn Youth and Community Association and its accountability to the local community.
The Times Series contacted Reverend Geoffrey Muhoro, 45, chairman of the Old Barn’s management association, but he refused to comment.
He said: “Never call me again. I don’t want to say anything. I’m busy running the centre.”
A council spokesman said: “The council has had a series of meetings with the Old Barn Youth and Community Association over the last few months to consider their compliance with the terms of the lease for the building.”
The council says it is continuing to work with the lessee to ensure the centre benefits the community.