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Giuliano Pistoni

Joiners Arms launches petition to save it from demolition

The East London pub wants to be recognised as a community asset to prevent it being flattened

Last month it was announced that the Joiner's Arms in Bethnal Green had lost its battle with property developers and would be knocked down to make way for yet another block of flats.

The Joiners has played a vital role in defining London's gay culture and after-hours nightlife, so the decision to flatten it with a wrecking ball was met with outrage by its owners and patrons.

Now, a petition launched by a group called Friends Of The Joiners Arms is seeking to get the Joiners recognised as an asset of community value, in the hope of saving it from the clutches of developers. The group doesn't just want to save the Joiners but use the movement to set up a "cooperatively owned and managed, holistic/multi-use LGBTQI community centre, which welcomes diversity, challenges inequality, promotes activism, and provides safety, fun, acceptance and support".

In a statement to Dazed, Friends Of The Joiners Arms said:

"The campaign started when a group of regulars, concerned at the idea of ripping down the Joiners, decided to see what could be done to stand up to this threat. Inspired by the lead of the New Era and E15 Mums campaigns, we don't just want to fight to keep things the way they are - ideally, we want to use the existing bar as a springboard for something new, something even more progressive. We found that one option open was to apply for "asset of community value" (ACV) status. To get this, we simply have to apply to the council (it's pretty rock & roll - a 10 page application form). We've been warned the freeholders can challenge the decision if we get listed. The big question is what happens if - when - we get that. Unlike Scotland, where the ACV legislation gives a community group the right to buy, we would only have the right to bid. And we would have to raise the funds to do this.

But if we get this, imagine... Aside from keeping the bar open (giving the LGBTQI community of London somewhere to drink, dance and behave less than impeccably till the early hours) we want to set up a community centre providing care, support and crisis intervention, open discussions and debates, planning campaigns and activism, providing a space to confront issues facing LGBTQI and the wider communities in unique ways in areas such as drugs, sexual health, misogyny and racism. On top of that, the enterprise will be co-operatively run and democratically managed.

We feel this is important for two reasons - we keep alive somewhere that is one of the few late night bars the community has (and develop the other community functions it performs), and we say to the people turning east London into unaffordable 'luxe' flats marketed as being in an edgy, distinctive area: you can't always get what you want. Hopefully before someone says it to us".

If the campaign is successful, it would mean that the community has the opportunity to buy the venue and protect it from the developers. Sign the petition here to help keep one of London's most revered pubs alive.