TV stars lend their support to under-threat Bandstand
Actors Robson and Strong unite against Town Hall plan to demolish ‘vital and lifesaving resource’
21 February, 2020 — By Calum Fraser
Gwyneth Strong: ‘I have used the Highbury Bandstand stay-and-play for over 30 years – it is a vital and lifesaving resource for parents in the area’
BIRDS of a Feather and Loose Women star Linda Robson has called for the council to reconsider its decision not to regenerate the Highbury Bandstand and the One O’Clock Club.
Ms Robson, who starred in the hit BBC series in the 1990s as well as the ITV revival five years ago, has regularly visited the “stay-and-play” service in Highbury Fields which the council has earmarked for demolition.
Ms Robson said: “I’m very sad, I have a lot of history here and the community needs more places like this for our parents and children. I hope they [the council] review their decision and keep it open.”
Only Fools and Horses star Gwyneth Strong joined Ms Robson in condemning the council’s plans.
The actors’ interventions came in the week figures were released by the council that reveal its plans to borrow £250,000 in order to revamp the nearby cafe – sparking further outrage from Bandstand staff Sam Parrington and Lorraine O’Leary.
Ms Strong, who played Rodney’s wife Cassandra in Only Fools and Horses, said: “I have used the Highbury Bandstand stay-and-play for over 30 years. Originally bringing my own children and now my grandchildren. It is a vital and lifesaving resource for parents in the area.”
She added: “I also made lifelong friends there. Sam and Lorraine have made an amazing job of making everyone feel welcome and included in this lovely and important space in the park, it must not be demolished.”
As the Tribune previously reported, the council’s decision to invest in the café on the Fields and not regenerate the stay-and-play service has been derided by mothers who say that the area does not need “another trendy café”.
The council has offered to pay the rent for nine hours a week in the Christ Church Community Centre, which is under construction. But Ms Parrington and Ms O’Leary, who have supplemented their allowance from the council by renting the space out at weekends, say the council’s proposals are unsustainable.
The pair have been repeatedly told that rebuilding the Bandstand, which is in a state of disrepair, would cost too much.
But Ms O’Reilly was shocked to hear that the council have now borrowed tens of thousands of pounds to pump into the café. She said: “If they can borrow money for the café, why can’t they borrow money to rebuild the Bandstand?”
Islington environment chief Councillor Rowena Champion said: “We have worked hard to ensure that vital stay-and-play sessions can continue to be provided locally by the Highbury Fields Bandstand Group.
“These proposals would see them operating in a brand-new facility as soon as it is ready, and allow our ambitions for the wider building project in Highbury Fields to move forwards.”