Simon Hughes is strongly supporting the bid by the Guildable Manor, an ancient organisation whose origins in Southwark date back more than 1,000 years to the time of Alfred the Great, to purchase the Grade II-listed Tower Bridge Magistrates Court which is now up for sale following its closure in June 2013.
The Guildable Manor would like to turn the old Magistrates Court in Tooley Street SE1, built in 1906, into an exhibition space and meeting rooms for the local community.
In a letter to Peter Handcock CBE, Chief Executive of her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Services, Simon Hughes called on Sir Peter to add his support to the purchase of the Magistrates Court by the Guidable Manor given their strong historic and legal links to Southwark and "because I believe that the use of this building for community events and by community groups would be of immense benefit to my constituents living in the SE1 area and beyond."
Simon Hughes also warns that unless the Guildable Manor succeeds in buying the old Court building, other interested parties might see this as "a purely speculative investment" and, as such, wider benefits to the community would be lost.
The Guildable Manor, whose origins date back to 880AD and the reign of Alfred the Great, is part of the Ancient Guild of Southwark. It is still a designated court under the Administration of Justice Act 1977.
The members of the 'Guildable Manor' are the Free Tenants or Burgesses of the 'Town and Borough of Southwark" which is the title given to it in the Charter granted to the City by Edward VI in 1550.