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The Nursery Social Centre Birmingham

one of the nursery social centre collective | 29.09.2005 19:57 | Free Spaces | Birmingham

The Nursery at 1 Bournbrook Road, Selly Oak in Birmingham was shutdown by Birmingham City Council and left empty for two years. The council shut the community nursery down and handed it over to its Economic Development Department (E.D.D). E.D.D. are a private company who sell our public property to the private sector. There is no public consultation about this process. Local projects from council nurseries to sports centres are being closed and sold off to the private sector for re-development across the city.

Here's a very short intro to a longer film about the Nursery Social Centre. Sorry I haven't got round to encoding it with an open source codec yet. If you have any problems playing the film in it's Mp4 format download vlc player - an open source player:

Back in the summer of 2004 a group including homeless people and children re-opened the boarded-up nursery building & transformed it into a new social/community space. The Nursery Social Centre was Birmingham's first @utonomous Social Centre voluntarily run by a 30 strong collective on non-hierarchical lines.

Birmingham City Council tried many times to evict the Social Centre Collective, but
the Collective peacefully resisted the evictions directly on all levels and managed to stay put. A bypass is soon to be built through Selly Oak and the Nursery was scheduled to be demolished a couple of years after it was shut. The building would have stayed empty for over 4 years whilst the parents and kids using the nursery were relocated 4 miles away. The parents and staff had also secured lottery money to improve the 'secret garden' at the back of the Nursery. Very soon after the work had been completed the Council shut the nursery down.

The Collective soon discovered that the bypass was part funded by Sainsbury's and a new PFI hospital. As a result the bypass is planned to pass by a new retail development that Sainsburys are relocating to and past the new privately financed hospital in Selly Oak. Whilst corporate interests and hundreds of millions of pounds have dictated the route of the bypass, the needs of the local community and the environment have lost out. Much of the wildlife around the Bournbrook river will also suffer because of the bypass.

The Collective moved out in January after 7 months on the condition that the council return the building to social use. The building has now been re-fitted by the council to house the RITE project - an educational project working with children excluded from mainstream education.

The Secret Garden was being squatted by members of the collective - its future now remains uncertain.

It's unfortunate that the council didn't agree to the collective's proposal to continue their social centre project, and that the RITE project only needs to be re-housed because they were being evicted from their present building because - surprise surprise - it's going to be sold off to a private buyer. But for this building at least, direct action and a well thought out media strategy forced the council to put one of our public buildings back into social use.

one of the nursery social centre collective
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  1. just a little thing — Kidda