Disagreements within the council have spilled out into the open, reports James Cracknell
A major row has erupted at Enfield Council over a proposed shake-up of the borough’s culture venues, the Dispatch understands.
Discussions are taking place at the civic centre over the future of Millfield Arts Centre (including both Millfield Theatre and Millfield House), Salisbury House Arts Centre and Green Towers Community Centre – all in Edmonton – with the former potentially being handed to an outside organisation, and the others potentially being transferred to the council’s housing department.
But private disagreements between the council leadership and the culture team over the proposed moves have now spilled out into the open, after a petition was launched calling on the council to “save Paul Everitt and the Enfield cultural team from redundancy”.
Paul Everitt is the council’s head of culture and the petition was launched by Emma Rigby, founder of community organisation Love Your Doorstep. The petition states: “Enfield Council are pushing out Paul and his team […] We believe it’s because Paul voices his opinions to the administration, putting Enfield’s culture and leisure at the absolute forefront of his job, and this makes the administration very uncomfortable.”
The council has declined to comment on the situation but the Dispatch understands that while no redundancies have been confirmed, a restructuring of the culture team could lead to several people’s jobs being made obsolete.
The proposal for Millfield Theatre, as well as the adjacent Millfield House, is to lease the arts venue to a separate theatre company. A key part of the disagreement within the council revolves around Edmonton potentially being left without any council-run culture venue, if the moves went ahead.
There have also been long-standing disagreements over the future of the Dugdale Centre in Enfield Town, which the council is set to reduce in size so that it can use the first floor as office space. Enfield Local Studies Library and Archive is being relocated, but its new home has not yet been confirmed.
A new five-year culture strategy was launched by the council last autumn. In it, council leader Nesil Caliskan and deputy leader Ian Barnes wrote: “Culture surrounds us and is within us across Enfield: it is who we are and shapes the way we interact with each other.
“It both influences the path of history and is influenced by history itself, as well as being borne from religion and our multicultural traditions. It is the food we eat, the languages we speak across the borough, our values, beliefs and customs.
“For some it might simply mean discussing a book or enjoying our cultural gems like Forty Hall and the Millfield Theatre, while for others it could mean a desire to write poetry, paint, compose songs, make films, create video games or take to a stage and dance.
“But our culture is constantly evolving and as a council we must keep pace with it and harness its power and economic benefits for all our residents.”