A Labour councillor in east Greenwich has said he is “disgusted” by the sale of the area’s former library to a church whose head branded gay marriage an evil that would bring about the end of the world.
Chris Lloyd, who represents Peninsula ward and is also Greenwich Council’s chair of scrutiny, said he would be seeking answers about how the town hall ended up selling East Greenwich Library to the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) for £1.8 million.
The sale of the Grade II-listed library two years ago was revealed on Monday by Metro as part of an investigation into public buildings being sold off by councils. The details were not made public at the time.
Pastor Enoch Adeboye, who has run the church for 40 years, told a university service in 2013: “How can a man who marries a fellow man produce a child and how can a woman who marries a woman produce a child?
“If this evil is allowed to stay, there will not be new-borns again in the world. As the older generation dies, will there be new generations to succeed it? Even plants and animals have new generations to succeed them.”
More recently, he has also told men: “Don’t marry a lady who cannot cook. She needs to know how to do chores and cook because you cannot afford to be eating out all the time.”
Reacting to 853’s story about the sale yesterday, Lloyd said on social media that he was “disgusted” by the sale and would be using his position on the council to investigate.
He added: “As a gay councillor that has represented east Greenwich for eight years I am deeply concerned by this. I am asking serious questions. First of all, what due diligence was done on the buyer before it was agreed?”
The Labour council’s leader Danny Thorpe lashed out at Nigel Fletcher, the Conservative opposition leader, for also criticising the sale to RCCG.
Referring to a Daily Mail story about a former Tory peer that received £330,000 from a “levelling up” fund to repair a track leading to an art gallery and museum on his Sussex estate, he tweeted: “So Nigel, having belonged to a party that has decimated funding for local councils but has found the money to ‘level up’ a peer’s pathway, are you seriously getting into this?”
The decision to sell the library was made in 2007, while Labour was still in government, to fund a replacement in the nearby Greenwich Centre, which opened in 2015. It was donated by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to the old Metropolitan Borough of Greenwich in 1905.
When Fletcher praised Lloyd for intervening and accused Thorpe of dodging questions, the leader responded: “No one is not answering questions Nigel. Agreed in 2007. It’s the law. Given you voted to make 22,000 Greenwich residents poorer, refused to support our efforts to make schools safe and have stayed quiet on every single major issue that’s affected Greenwich, I’m not surprised.”
Thorpe also accused one resident who urged him to “do better” of “promoting Tory propaganda”.
The Greens, who will be hoping to get their first ever council seat in the area at May’s election, have also criticised the sale, with leading member Matt Browne saying: “The poison of homophobia should be denied a foothold in our community.”
Earlier this year Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, apologised after making a public visit to an RCCG church in north London after pressure from LBGTQ+ groups in the party. Boris Johnson also visited a vaccine centre in the same church, but refused to apologise.
Greenwich Council told 853 earlier this week that it was obliged by law to seek the best value from the sale of a public building.
It added: The church has assured the council in the past that it is not homophobic however, to publicly distance itself from comments made by previous pastors we would welcome it to sign our equality and equity charter that we launched this year, to stand alongside the 95 groups that have already done so.”
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