BY JAMES TWOMEY
A music school which has been providing lessons to children for more than two decades has been saved from being kicked out of its home.
The Osho Gallery in Lambeth Walk, Lambeth was this month offered a new 15-year lease after it had originally been told to find a new home in February.
Jimi Osho, the owner and a teacher at the gallery, said he had felt “devastated and helpless” to receive the original eviction notice from landlord WATMOS Community Homes, as he did not know why it had been served.
WATMOS said the eviction notice was served after Mr Osho failed to respond to correspondence.
But Osho Gallery says it was fully co-operative and responded to all contact.
Mr Osho added: “The offices of WATMOS and senior staff had said I was in arrears with my rent, but when we applied for the rent statement it was clear that we were in extreme credit.”
The school requested the help of London Assembly Member Florence Eshalomi, and together they managed to negotiate a new lease.
The school had been given a 15-year lease in 2010, and Mr Osho said rent payments had consistently been paid on time.
Mr Osho said: “Florence has absolutely changed the outcome. They were not considering the very real community value we bring to an area in a cash-strapped borough like Lambeth, where we have been completely self-sufficient.
“Florence and City Hall’s backing of our campaign to stay and continue our work of nearly two decades made my staff and I feel confident that things could be changed for a positive outcome.
We wanted to continue, so the community would not lose an amazing resource. “I’m hoping, with the intervention of Florence, this will be resolved and we can all move on and get back to what we do best – incredible education for phenomenal students provided by amazing tutors.
“We seek, where possible, to give the disadvantaged, underprivileged and the vulnerable a safe haven. A warm inviting and nurturing environment to encourage, inspire and liberate the emotional intelligence that informs our very being.
“I have witnessed how powerful music is and the amount of incredible, positive, community social change that can be effected using this medium.”
Ms Eshalomi said: “I am pleased that WATMOS has reconsidered its position on the Osho Gallery. The Osho Gallery has opened so many doors for so many young people – which would often otherwise stay closed.
This is a hidden gem that must remain open in Lambeth. The new offer is a great step forward in securing the future of the Osho Gallery.”
A WATMOS Community Homes spokeswoman said: “We value the work Mr Osho and his business does in the neighbourhood and have tried hard to reach an amicable solution where he can remain within Lambeth Walk.
We have welcomed the mediation from London Assembly Member Florence Eshalomi in order to reach a mutually beneficial conclusion.
“Regrettably due to receiving limited responses to our initial proposal last year, we were left with no alternative but to take legal action.
“Whilst there has since been dialogue between the parties, the Section 25 notice remains in place but we are open to dialogue and hope to conclude the matter in the near future.”