Tesco call Lambeth Council's bluff over Streatham Hub development plans
Tesco has spurned an ultimatum to protect the future of Streatham Ice Rink and contribute to the condemned Streatham leisure centre’s £3m repair bill – or see the axe fall on its development agreement with the council.
The town hall has been accused of allowing itself to be “held to ransom” after failing to enforce a threat to terminate the Streatham Hub’s development agreement with the supermarket giant.
Tesco had until last Friday to commit to keeping the rink open until a new one is built, and state its financial contribution towards a new leisure facility, according to a letter leaked to this paper - written by the chief executive of Lambeth Council.
But with the deadline passed, and with furious residents left in the dark, the future of the ice rink remains in the balance and Streatham’s only leisure centre closed indefinitely with both sides remain locked in negotiations.
Neither party would confirm whether an agreement had been reached on either issue. Should the entire Hub project collapse, Tesco is under no obligation to keep the rink it owns open.
Trevor Hutton, from Skaters 4 the Hub, said: “There needs to be full disclosure of what’s going on. Every time I try to speak to either side they’ll duck and dive or head to the hills. No one will say if and how the ice rink will be protected.”
Lambeth’s Liberal Democrat opposition leader, Councillor Ashley Lumsden, said Tesco had called the council’s bluff after missing the deadline. He said: “Both sides have to go public on this now – secret back room deals just aren’t enough. Everyone wants to know if the ice rink is safe. We’re still without a leisure centre and we need to know what the council is going to do about it. Any potential development is years away and it has to be made clear what will happen in the meantime.”
Labour councillor Lib Peck, Lambeth’s cabinet member for housing and regeneration, said negotiations with Tesco were progressing after some “robust and challenging conversations”. However, she would not comment on the extent to which agreement had been reached due to commercial confidentiality.
She said: “Both sides have been working closely together and, at this stage, I’m hopeful. We have been very clear about what we want and are glad Tesco has listened to us.”
A spokesman for Tesco said the next month would be critical to the future of the Hub project but added: “I cannot be drawn into confirming or clarifying particular points of confidential negotiations although they are progressing well.”
Chukka Umunna, Streatham’s Labour parliamentary candidate, who created the Keep Streatham Skating campaign to save the rink, said: “The community is very clear – we need to get on with this.
“If Tesco does anything that will put the ice rink in jeopardy, they will feel the full force of their customers and the Streatham community.
“Money talks to Tesco and people in Streatham and beyond will not shop at their supermarket.
“I’ve never seen a local issue explode in the same way this has.”
The project is supposed to deliver a new supermarket, homes and a new leisure centre and ice rink.