Community group visited by Muhammad Ali fights to stay in Brixton

A community centre in Brixton once visited by Muhammad Ali is being forced out of its premises after being given notice to vacate from Lambeth Council.

365 Community Centre provides free legal support and advice for the African community in Brixton, from their offices in 365 Brixton Road.

But now Lambeth Council is insisting they leave the premises they own so they can be refurbished, giving them no promise of return.

The council has offered them a new building, but 365 are sceptical.

Spokeswoman Njeri Yebiemen said: “They want us to move to Angell Town, a very inconvenient place that is very small with low ceilings.

“The reason why we’re going there is because nobody else wants to go.”

She added: “We want to engage with the council but they’re sidestepping the issue.

“I think they just want to sell it on to developers. It’s prime property in the area.”

They offered to pay for the refurbishment themselves through fundraising but said the council refused to listen.

A Lambeth Council spokesman insisted its decision was in the interest of tenants’ safety.

He said: “365 Brixton Road currently poses a severe health and safety risk and we have little choice but to close the building immediately.

“People’s safety is our number one priority and something we are simply not willing to put in jeopardy under any circumstances.”

The site was visited by Muhammad Ali in 1999, who gave his support to the Africa Jubilee 2000 campaign to cancel third world debt.

Ms Yebiemen shook his hand that day and is hoping his visit to the building will help raise awareness of their removal from the property.

“If we mobilize the community and get support, then I think we have a great chance of staying in the building,” she said.

“If we have to move then we’ll never be able to go back.

“The council has said we will be given an opportunity to make our case for returning. Which basically means no,” she added.

Future public meetings are being scheduled by 365 to propose a future course of action.

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