It’s been two months since we sat in the council chambers and watched, some of us bent double with nerves, what we thought was the culmination of three years of campaigning.
It turned out it was just another twist on what has been a lurching, hazardous and at times criminally boring road. The councillors voted to defer the plans because they “did not go far enough.” The proposed venue would have been smaller than the old Joiners Arms, had few protections to guarantee it would be an LGBTQI venue, and would be strangled by early closing hours. As our co-chair Amy Roberts stated, it was “a trojan horse draped in a rainbow flag.”
In the intervening two months, we’ve had a round table meeting with the developers and the council; held a raucous fundraiser at Dalston Superstore; and written so many emails and Facebook messages about the campaign that my phone has started autocorrecting almost everything to ‘Joiners’.
There is good news. The developers have made significant changes to the plans:
- Increasing the size of the proposed venue, and altering the shape to create something wonkier
- Proposing protections to create a safe smoking section on Hackney Road
- Listening to our feedback on the legal document which enshrines the venue as an LGBTQI venue
However, we found out this week that the final proposal councillors will vote on still has major problems
- Opening hours will be limited to 23.00 on weekdays (midnight on Friday and Saturday)
- Changes to the legal protections haven’t been completed
- The venue is only protected as an LGBTQI venue for 15 years
We are putting all our efforts into contacting allies who have supported us throughout this long campaign to put pressure on the council to make the changes we believe are necessary to create something close to meeting the needs of the LGBTQI community: a late-licence, fully-accessible, diverse, sustainable and wonky queer venue & community centre.
The most important thing is that we continue to try to represent the community – with that in mind, we ask that you try to join us and show councillors who we are and what we want.
The meeting starts at 19.00 on Tower Hamlets Town Hall, Mulberry Place (nearest stop – East India DLR). More details here >>> https://www.facebook.com/events/244846092707090