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Deptford Job Centre pub name 'is offensive'
A Deptford pub named after the former job centre it now occupies has been accused of "insulting" the area and making unemployment "a joke".
Lewisham People Before Profit have written to pub company Antic asking them to change the name of The Job Centre pub - which has been given a generally positive reception until now.
Their outraged letter says: "The current name sends an extremely insulting and profoundly negative message about the role of your establishment in the neighbourhood and your view of the majority of people who live there.
"Given the Antic Collective's previous positive and progressive impact in other parts of south London, this is a message out of keeping with your profile and damaging to your reputation."
Since losing down in 2010, the job centre has been used as a squat and gallery before finally being converted into a pub earlier this year.
But Lewisham People Before Profit claim that Antic are making light of a deprived area at a time when high-rise buildings are popping up around SE8, pricing long-standing residents out.
Their letter states: "In the case of your bar, the Job Centre name you have chosen underscores the fact that a location that once housed a service for the many struggling people in the neighbourhood has been replaced with a bar catering to those who can afford the sort of upmarket pub food your website promises.
"By choosing to decorate with an ‘eclectic mix of vintage décor and quirky design features inspired by its function as a place that once served the unemployed’ (a quotation from your website), you turn the experience of the unemployed—an experience so widespread and painful in the current climate that it is literally driving people to suicide—into a style feature for the amusement of those with disposable cash.
"Taken together, the bar's name and its interior design suggest that you want potential clientèle to understand that your bar is for the new people moving into Deptford, for whom job centres are a joke, and not the existing residents of Deptford, for whom job centres are often a necessity.
"This approach takes the injury of unemployment, poverty and displacement, and adds the insult of seeing these injuries turned into fun décor for people lucky enough to escape such experiences. We encourage you to rethink this unnecessarily divisive and repulsive message, which is hugely destructive to the good reputation you have earned across south London."
Antic operations manager Max Alderman said the pub had brought 10 jobs to the area and that its very own jobs board inside was proving popular.
He said: "Historically, pubs were named after what went on either in or around them. It was a job centre and we felt it was appropriate to reflect what used to go on there."
Mr Alderman added: "I don't think it's disrespectful to use the name and it's certainly not our intention to belittle anybody who doesn't have work."
He went on: "We're really very happy to discuss it with anybody and we will hold a meeting down there to discuss it."