Leeds Social Centre in court next week

This article was written by volunteers at the Leeds-Bradford Independent Media Centre following interviews with volunteers from The Common Place, Leeds' radical, autonomous social centre.

The CommonPlace is a social centre located in Leeds, accommodating a broad range of community groups. The CommonPlace has been open since 2005 when it received funding to establish a community resource in central Leeds. Since then, it has been entirely volunteer run. Despite having no wages to pay, The CommonPlace pays rent and bills just like any other city centre venue. More recently, The CommonPlace has been financed by bar sales at community orientated clubnights, supplemented by membership subscriptions and donations. Without income from the bar, they would be forced to close permanently.

As a democratic club, all major decisions are made at a general meeting, open to all members.

At the end of July 2008, The CommonPlace has its Club Premises Certificate (license) withdrawn by Leeds City Council (LCC), under Section 90 of the Licensing Act 2003. The club believe this was unfair and are appealing to have the licence reinstated. The CommonPlace cannot discuss the specifics of the appeal process at this time due to legal reasons: They are keen for their story to be told in due course.

The CommonPlace has met with LCC twice in court (30th September, 28th October), also delegates of The CommonPlace met with the Licensing department on 15th December 2008 with a view to resolving matters. On each occasion The CommonPlace has tried to deal with the council's concerns in order to regain the original license.

A volunteer from The CommonPlace said, "We were sorry to hear after our last meeting with them, that they didn't want to talk to us again before the hearing." The appeal is due to be heard on 22nd to 26th January 2009 at Leeds Magistrates' Court.

Another volunteer, from the Bar Committee said, "We're puzzled by how much interest the Police have shown since we've never had any trouble or arrests when we've been putting on a night here ... we just want to get things back to normal."

The CommonPlace are adamant that they are a members club, and that LCC have withdrawn this license wrongly; The CommonPlace is grateful for the continuing support of members, donors and over 1000 Leeds residents who have signed a petition in support. To be kept informed, please see www.thecommonplace.org.uk where there are also instructions on joining the mailing list and getting involved as a member.