Walthamstow Toy Library and Play Centre moved into the Comely Bank Community Clinic 20 years ago, into a space that was purpose-built for us. The original Toy Library building was knocked down to make room for the Comely Bank campus and part of the agreement was that we would be given community space. Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group have now decided that they want to use our building for other purposes unless we pay over £8,000 a month/£100,000 a year rent/services charges – unaffordable for a small charity such as ours. This will result in the Toy Library’s eviction and the loss of a much loved and needed community group for families with young children.
Thank you to all members who submitted questions to the Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group AGM in September 2020. They have now written a formal response to the questions submitted available here.
Our response to their statement:
· The arrangement with the CCG has been in place since April 2015, when our peppercorn lease ended. Our landlord – Community Health Partnerships (CHP) – a publically owned company – wanted £87,000 per annum (£7.25k pcm) in rent/service charges and our annual income was £54,500.
· We asked for support because, in the 1980s, the Toy Library was awarded funding from the GLC to build its own purpose built space. This was knocked down to make way for the Comely Bank Campus. We were given a 10-year peppercorn lease from 2004 – 14 by the now defunct Primary Care Trust. This was the first time that we asked for help.
· Since 2012, two years before our peppercorn lease was due to expire, we have been asking for a fair rent, which reflects our income and social impact.
· In 2018, the CCG kindly extended the arrangement until March 2021. The rent/services charges at the time were £81636. The second time we asked for help.
· Since 2015 we have worked hard to increase our income and align our services with theirs (as per their request). Our income has increased by 57% (85667 – 54500 = 31167/54500 x 100%).
· CHP have said we can stay in the premises providing we pay the full rent/service charges currently set at £102,378 per annum (£8.5k pcm), but the CCG want us out. The rent and service charges are likely to increase in 2021.
· To say our services are replicated elsewhere is inaccurate – we are the only toy library in the borough.
· Over the years we have worked with the Children’s Centre and HENRY – signposting members to their services and delivering some services jointly, such as Speech and Language. However, we believe that existing services are stretched and that we are able to offer our community an alternative choice, taking the pressure off other services.
· WF CCG plan to move a local GP practice into the building. We have been told they will be charged the full rent by CHP which they claim back from the NHS. Is this also a good use of tax payer’s money?