Labour Councillors are supporting a group of creative people who are lobbying Westminster Council to help set up a jobs project for young people in the empty Pimlico Library – which Sainsbury’s is trying to rent.
Millbank Creative Works (MCW) argues Westminster should be supporting charitable projects like itself, instead of contemplating letting the supermarket company have the building.
The group aims to tackle youth unemployment and raise the aspirations of young people from deprived backgrounds, ahead of profitable private ventures.
Sainsbury’s is due to submit a planning application for change of use of the library building in the next few months, and rents of up to £120,000 a year could go to the council.
The premises in Lupus Street have been unoccupied since the library facilities were relocated in September 2010 and to a larger shared site in nearby Pimlico Academy.
MCW founder Wilfried Rimensberger, who is also chairman of Millbank Estate Management Organisation, said:
“We need something in the area to help young people into jobs. We’ve got a conglomerate of creatives in the area and a lot of talent in young people so we established this platform. We’re now looking to find a location and we realised last year the former Pimlico Library was still empty. We did a couple of surveys of local businesses and residents associations and all of them have said we would like to have this project there because it’s sympathetic to the area but we need something new to energise the area.”
An online petition supporting MCW has gathered more than 200 signatures.
The project aims to help young entrepreneurs set up creative businesses such as MPVSW1, a new community radio station for Millbank, Pimlico and Victoria and MCW’s first project.
High profile creative companies in the area, including Random House publishers, Channel 4, Tate Britain, Chelsea College of Arts and Design, BMW International Sales and The Abbey Community Centre, have backed the social enterprise. They would provide staff to train and mentor jobseekers.
The council’s strategic director for housing and property, Ben Denton, said: “We need to ensure that we are making the best possible use of the council’s building assets and bring income into the council to fund necessary services.
“There are a number of competing interests for the old library space and we have considered this interest coming to our view on how to take the space forward.
“Sainsbury’s are due to submit a planning application for the site in the next few months. Local residents will be able to give their views on this application during the consultation.”
To sign the petition go to http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/former-pimlico-library-for-the-local-community