Church rent rise may squeeze out centre

The future of a north London day care centre for people with
long-term mental health problems is under threat because of a rent
hike by the London Diocesan Fund.

The Mitchley Road Workshop, run by the mental health organisation
Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association and held in the St Mary the
Virgin church hall in Tottenham, faces problems after the rent was
increased from £14,000 a year to £17,500, having already
risen from £2,000 a year in 1998.

John Wilder, director of the association, said Haringey Council,
which funds the centre, would not be able to afford the rent
increase. He has written to Dr Rowan Williams, the archbishop of
Canterbury, asking for advice and accusing the London Diocesan
Fund, a charity which controls church property in the capital, of
having a “determination to enrich its resources”.

A spokesperson for the London Diocesan Fund said that it was doing
the best it could within the terms of the law. She said that,
according to the Charities Act 1993, property must be let at the
market price.

Haringey Council, which has funded the centre for 40 years, said it
was still deciding how to allocate the mental health grant for
2003-4 and that it was not able to say “with any certainty” what
effect the rent increase would have.

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