Dear Tower Hamlets Council,
We, the undersigned, call upon Tower Hamlets council to uphold the Asset of Community Value (ACV) status of The Joiners Arms, 116-118 Hackney Road, London, E2 7QL.
The Joiners Arms has been at the heart of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Queer, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA) East End community for nearly twenty years. It’s a pub in the traditionally British sense – being at the centre of the community, it’s a space for people to meet, socialise and feel at home. Importantly, Tower Hamlets residents with LGBTQIA identities need spaces in which to safely congregate and socialise within their borough. For a borough as diverse as Tower Hamlets, the value that venues like The Joiners contribute to the wider community, cannot be monetised or measured; spaces like these are vital to maintaining a culture of acceptance and cross-community dialogue, such as those at the heart of the Tower Hamlets ‘No Place for Hate’ campaign.
In addition to supporting the social and psychological well-being of the LGBTQIA community, The Joiners was used for community meetings and discussions, raising sexual health awareness through Positive East HIV testing days, and liaisons with the Metropolitan Police LGBT unit regarding safety in the area. It was also offered to other organisations with shared values and interests: the space was used by AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) and GMFA – the gay men’s health charity – for outreach programmes, and the Joiners hosted regular fundraisers for local, national, and international organisations including Positive East, Art Against Knives, Mildmay, PubWatch, and Amnesty International.
It is for these reasons that the Tower Hamlets council accepted the application by Friends of The Joiners Arms to list the Joiners Arms as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) in January 2015. The Friends of the Joiners Arms campaign group holds a central vision to extend upon the vital community space that The Joiners Arms offered and, with the collaborative support of Rainbow Hamlets, establish London’s first democratically, co-operatively run LGBTQIA community centre. The campaign has received widespread positive local and national press coverage, over 1,200 signatures on an online petition, nearly 6,000 supporters on a Facebook ‘Like Page’ and receives an average 100 petition signatures a week through a weekend stall aimed at engaging the public on issues of community space closures and the housing crisis.
Tower Hamlets has a responsibility to put the welfare, safety and happiness of its residents before those of corporate interests, particularly when those residents form part of the LGBTQIA community, which experiences oppression, marginalization and discrimination disproportionately.
In order to solve the issues faced by this borough, community spaces need to be preserved in tandem with housing provision, resulting in the protection of the welfare of all Tower Hamlets residents. It is unfair to suggest that provisions for housing and community spaces are mutually exclusive, especially as Friends Of The Joiners Arms supports and is supported by campaigns to protect and build truly affordable housing.
Through upholding the ACV status of the Joiners, and therefore being instrumental in the establishment of London’s first co-operatively run LGBTQIA community centre, Tower Hamlets will not only be ensuring that the wellbeing of its residents remains its foremost priority, it will also stand as an example of positive local government.
Friends of The Joiners Arms
Barberette, The Gender Free Barbershop
Barnet Housing Action Group
Charlotte George, Hackney Green Party
Eastside Community Heritage
Ivy House Community Pub Limited
Metropolitan Community Church in East London
Redbridge Rainbow Community
Terrence Higgins Trust
The Kaleidoscope Trust
The Labour Group of Tower Hamlets
Tower Hamlets First councillors
Tower Hamlets No Place For Hate Forum
University College London Union LGBT+ Forum
York Student’s Union LGBTQ Network
Alissa C Pesqueira
Aurelio John Patierno
Cheryl Lous Norris
Margarida Pais Almeida
Mariana Araujo Marinho de Lemos
Mr Sarath Samaranayake