Aspire is a Community Interest Company formed by the Caribbean Associations Group to be the legal entity that represents and acts on behalf of Reading’s black community associated with the highly aspirational bid for the Central Club building and site. The Caribbean Associations Group is the coordinating/umbrella organisation for The Jamaica Society & Friends, (JS&F) The Barbados & Friends Association (BAFA) and The St Vincent & Grenadines Association (SVGA). Aspire raised £10Million to fund their compelling bid to acquire and develop the Central Club site in Reading. The bid has the backing of 20 Reading based community groups.
Aspire Media Release
For Immediate Release: 15 May 2018
Embargo: 11 am 15 May 2018
Aspire Confirms Bid of Nearly £1M for the Spiritual of the Windrush Home Generation in Reading Borough Council new Sales Process for the Central Club.
At a community leaders meeting and media briefing today Aspire, Reading’s Black Community Interest Company (CIC) and the winning bidder of RBC last process to sell the abandoned Central Club site at 36 – 42 London Street, Reading to the Community revealed that they have increased their offer to buy the Central Club site for [£850,000] nearly £1M. The Chairman of Aspire, Mr Keith Kerr said: “We are in talks with the Baroness [Doreen] Lawrence of the Stephen Lawrence Trust to provide the architect to design a landmark building on the site for community use, a fitting tribute to the Windrush generation and the memory of Stephen Lawrence. Mr Keith Kerr, told the community leaders the battle to get back their spiritual home is far from being won with this knock out bid of nearly £1M. He said: The Board of Aspire met on the 9 May 2018 to decide if Aspire should submit a bid”. The Board Members had to ensure that three high hurdles were cleared before they gave the go ahead to bid.
The three hurdles were:
- Confirmation of full funding for the project from build out to transfer
- The ‘Community Hub’ must be financially viable in perpetuity
- The Bid is fully compliant RBC new rules on a level playing field
All the hurdles were cleared accept for major reservations that the Board had about the new sales process that RBC had issued on 11 March 2018. The new process was not a freehold sale but a 999 years lease with RBC remaining as the landlord. Two separate but irreconcilable Bid process [Haslam commercial and RBC Third Sector] are being used by RBC to judge commercial and Third Sector Bids.
The Board believes RBC’s process is opaque and blindingly unfair as it puts a more onerous burden of the third sector not placed on commercial bidders. For example Third Sector Bids must show how their bids meet RBC Strategic Priorities for 2017 – 2019. How will the RBC value the community services that Aspire will be providing to this much underserved segment of the community in aspires Bid. What is the status of the request by the community to have the Central Club listed as an Asset of Community Value?
Aspire have had discussions and meetings to work with RBC to ensure that there is a transparent, fair and consistent process that does not favour commercial developers over third sector groups. At the deadline date RBC requested more time to provide answers to the question Aspire raised about the process. The Board decided to submit a bid as you have to be in it to win it. However, Aspire has reserved its position and ask RBC to think again. They have the power in the bidding rules to alter the process and make them fair open and transparent.
Aspire took the decision to enter this unfair process at this stage because the diaspora have instructed us get back their spiritual home. The confirmation came during the course of the nine public meetings Aspire held between the announcement to unilaterally scrap the last process won by Aspire in August 2017 and the closing of the new process on 11 May 2018. For the sake of transparency and openness Aspire will be placing its full bid on its web and social media sites www.aspirecic.co.uk at 12 Noon today.
To be at the heart of building a cohesive community where people of African-Caribbean heritage have a shared vision and a sense of belonging; where people of different backgrounds are appreciated and have equal life opportunities.
To build, own and operate a trailblazing ‘Community Hub’ to anchor the diaspora, creating facilities and environments where all communities can live, work and play.
Our GoalsTo develop a landmark building that reflects our heritage and our aspiration
- To be at the leading edge of Black heritage human capital development
- To showcase our creativity through culture, sports, arts & science
- To be exemplars in the field of business & enterprise
- To build and make available housing for those in need
- To provide venues for our community to entertain, celebrate & educate
- To be recognised as the one stop shop for defining our community needs