Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Save The Common Place!

Posting this on the behalf of Dom of Leeds collective Chinchilla and the mighty CHOPS. Leeds has a healthy underground music scene, renowned for its drone based improv and noise rock, and is a key part of the UK's DIY infrastructure. So the potential closure of one of its best venues is more than a local matter. Sign the online petition and leave your comments. Take it away Dom!

The Common Place is a volunteer run venue, activist centre, meeting space and vegan cafe in Leeds.

Chinchilla have put on a load of gigs there, including involvement in the monthly Funder Strikes x2 bands and club night.

The Council have revoked The Common Place's Club licence, which is the major source of funding for rent, etc. The Council believe that the Club does not satisfy the conditions for being a ‘qualifying club’ in relation to a qualifying club activity to which the certificate relates (section 61, Licensing Act 2003). This doesn't exactly give a reason for why they have revoked the licence, but it probably has something to do with The Common Place showing a film called 'On the Verge', which is a film about Smash EDO, an anti arms/anti war campaign from Brighton. "The film has become notorious, not so much because of the material it contains but because of the reaction of police forces and local authorities to it. Made for less than £500, the film tells how a small but committed group of activists, smashEDO, are taking on the Brighton base of an international arms manufacturer and, in the process, their local constabulary. The police, who are not shown in a good light in the film, intervened to stop the movie's premiere at a cinema in Brighton, and since then police officers and council officials have been paying calls to venues across the country where On the Verge (so called because the smashEDO protesters were confined for a while to a narrow grass verge opposite the factory they were targeting) is due to be shown, suggesting that it is not a good idea to show the film." (The Guardian -

We believe that the Council's actions are totally unwarranted. The Common Place is the only independent, self-financed community, cultural and political space in the city centre. As a private members club, it serves as a vital resource for hundreds of local residents as well as supporting voluntary and community activity, particularly around homelessness, housing, environmental, womens' and asylum issues.

By revoking the Common Place's Club Premises Certificate, the Council is removing the Common Place's ability to generate much-needed funding through licensed events, meaning almost certain closure. We believe this is exactly the kind of venture Leeds City Council should be supporting to increase active citizenship in the city.

If you could spend a minute of your time signing this petition to the Council, it could help make the difference.

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