§ Mr. Martin Stevens
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will announce his decision on the grant application made on behalf of the London Lesbian and Gay Centre in Smithfield EC1.
§ Mr. Kenneth Baker
[pursuant to his reply, 26 April 1985, c. 578]: After the most careful consideration, we have decided that consent should be refused to the application by the Greater London council for consent to expenditure of over £100,000 under section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 to meet the salary costs in 1985-86 of the centre's staff, who would collectively manage the centre. The formal decision of the Secretary of State has been communicated to the council today.
In reaching this decision, I have not sought to judge whether the centre, which has been provided at considerable public expense, is necessary or justifiable. Neither would I wish to comment on whether the intended users of what is predominantly a social and recreational centre constitute a group of the population who suffer social discrimination. Instead, in considering whether the proposed expenditure would be expedient, the question has to be asked whether it is right for the recurrent annual operating costs of £115,000, together with the full annual salary costs of £119,207, to be met predominantly by ratepayers, in comparison with anticipated but unsubstantiated direct income from users of £90,865. If there is indeed a demand for social and recreational facilities of this kind, I question whether it would not be reasonable to expect the operating costs to be met by the intended users, when there is no evidence that they constitue an economically deprived group of the population. These questions do not appear to have been addressed in any depth by the council.260W
As at 30 April, 120 applications for specific consent had been received from the GLC and consent had been given to 110. The following proposals are still receiving careful and urgent consideration.
£ Interrights Ltd. 16,296 Women's Peace Bus 41,363 Spare Rib 73,604 Searchlight 22,470 Royal Town Planning Institute 45,000 London Community Projects Design Service 34,942 Pheonix Taxis Ltd. 26,000 Palingswick House 24,625 Lewisham Women's Training Workshop 45,925