Eviction Statement

Viva la Arts Lodge

I am writing this as a statement of facts of recent events and to bring a little calm as we all know how high tensions are across the city, due to this conservative councils, policies, and actions particularity Donna Jones and a few council officers.  Whilst corruption and the abuse of power still continues locally and nationally effecting the majority of people’s lives there is always the possibility that tempers may flare up. But we can win this injustice through peoples power and through changing local council procedures and voting them out next May.

This has been the craziest month of my life but my biggest regret is not being spread over the front page for allegedly assaulting police with a broom or mop to protect my partner and our property as an unlawful eviction took place or even being pepper sprayed in the face and certainly not for using a plant for medicinal use. But the saddest part is seeing so many people so sad about what our council has done to us, mostly my daughter who cried when she saw them images on the news, she knows how much I have had to sacrifice since she was born and may now never see and help run the lodge. Also my partner (pagan wife, soul mate) and son who bravely left their life and home in Southampton and came to Portsmouth with hopes and dreams of a new happy life with me and the lodge.  Alison has been managing the park café voluntary since May 2016 and investing her own money and she and others have built it up to become a successful venture in its own right.

Within 5 days of Alison and Nathan moving into a flat in Southsea we had the devastating news of a termination of the lease! Just imagine how much peoples worlds can come crashing down so quick. I can only touch on the pressures and stress and the amount of problems this has made for them and everyone else who volunteer at the lodge. I can only apologise personally from the bottom of my heart to my partner and everyone else who have been affected by this. Alison is my rock and without her the last year and at present this public campaign to destroy me would have been unbearable and may have even worked. This has all happened because of me, all because of a personal vendetta by Donna Jones and a few officers. All the preparation , investment , work and time put into creating Portsmouth’s only art centre, vegan/vegetarian café and first co-op café by so many could now be gone forever.  This is why I have decided that I will now be standing back from the spotlight and workload of the organisation and let others be the focus to further our work, ethos and cause.

After the devastating news last May we gathered our thoughts and looked to the longer future even maybe without the lodge and looked into the possibility of alternative premises and the future started to look brighter. As we have been waiting for contact from the council since June 2016 offering us the alternative premises they promises in a meeting in July 2016 yet only receiving a reply in mid-January. We even offered workshops to adults with learning difficulties and Down syndrome yet this was turned down, a monthly rolling contract also tendering for the new contract was on the table. Yet all these promises in full council meetings, emails and in the media were all lies and delay tactics.  They had this eviction signed sealed and delivered way before giving us hope of moving on into somewhere viable that we could build up over many years into another lodge type venue. The pressures of all of these underhand spiteful tactics these council officers have sustained on me and others for over a decade must surely be punishable by losing their jobs and offering us and the city a written public apology.

And not us going to court this morning at 9.30am for protecting our dream!

Mr Mark E.W. Lewis Founder of the Arts Lodge   09/03/17

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Weʼre raising £25,000 to Save the multi-award winning A&ST from being made bankrupt by Portsmouth Council-Help them return to their famous cultural hub the Art Lodge

Campaign Update

Thank you so so much for the donations so far! 

This will help us from being forced into bankruptcy due to this nasty underhand tactic of our council. It will pay for continuous bills, fines for cancelling utility contracts, legal advice, storage, temporary premises, mobile cafe for events, raising awareness of campaign, insurance, stock and to carry on painting community murals, exhibitions, workshops, music events, employment, training and voluntary opportunities for the most vulnerable in our society.

Thank you again

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New Articles in support of our campaign!

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Here is a new light-hearted video made in support of our campaign, enjoy!

Save The Lodge

The Art Lodge in Victoria Park, Portsmouth is under threat from the council of closure once again and we need your help.

Please help in any way that you can to preserve this independent oasis in a desert of soul-less corporations.

For over 16 years, the Arts Lodge in Victoria Park has been serving the community after saving this beautiful historical building from certain demolition.

What a Result!

An unanimous approval of a motion asking PRED to put the plans on hold and to stop the eviction of the lodge submitted by Councillor Pitt.


We're bowled over by the support that we have got from everyone around us. Our heart-felt thanks goes out to all of the Councillors who made such passionate and beautiful speeches on our behalf.

Thank you too to the Tories opposing the motion who did see reason and joined in to show unanimous support.

Thank you thank you everyone. You are all brilliant lights shining brightening for our community.

Council Meeting Update

On Tuesday 12th July, 2016 at 2:00 pm, a full council meeting was held at the Guildhall, Portsmouth. Item 15d on the agenda was the following motion:

Proposed by Councillor Steve Pitt

Seconded by Councillor Darren Sanders

This Council recognises the valuable contribution made by Art & Soul Traders to the cultural and community life of our city and also their restoration of The Lodge in Victoria Park. After a robust and ultimately successful dialogue in 2012, a new agreement was reached between this Council and the operators, to secure their future, which has resulted in both increased income for the Council and extra flexibility for the operators, who have continued to thrive. The Council therefore supports, in principle, the continuation of the lease for Art & Soul Traders as tenants of The Lodge and asks the Cabinet Member for PRED to ensure that happens.

This was on the back of the very recently published and eagerly anticipated Action Plan for Victoria Park. The report pack provided for the the cabinet meeting includes details of the project work proposed for the park.

The video below is a recording of the full council meeting in which Mark, David, Pat and Richard were given a chance to make deputations to the council and the motion debated:

...or watch it on the council site here...

Watch the whole thing if you'd like but if you want to jump in at the relevant points, fast forward to the times below:

Time Event
14:30 Start of deputations with Mark taking the lead
25:45 Pat's speech and the rapturous applause!
3:58:20 Start of council discussion on the Art Lodge motion (Councillor Steve Pitt)
4:02:11 Councillor Donna Jones - No knowledge of Termination
4:02:45 Councillor Steve Pitt - e-mail from Donna Jones which demonstrate she has no knowledge
4:03:40 Councillor Steve Pitt - maiden speech
4:13:20 Councillor Lee Hunt
4:19:40 Councillor Donna Jones - she lies again about our break clause
4:25 Councillor Donna Jones promises us £45k
4:26:20 Councillor Steve Pitt - Councillor Lee Hunt
4:28:40 Councillor Donna Jones shouts!
4:29:20 Councillor Lee Hunt calls Donna Jones a discrace
4:31:30 Meeting adjourned
4:52 Councillor Donna Jones - Councillor Ben Dowling
4:53:30 Councillor Darren Sanders
4:59:20 Councillor Matthew Winnington
5:03:42 Councillor Steve Pitt - Summary!
5:06:40 VOTE!

No Result After All!

Despite an unanimous approval of a motion to allow us to continue with our lease (see below) the Council have done it again by passing the full bill anyway.

The News have reported back from the PRED cabinet meeting which made the 'final decision' today. Read the article here..

Can you believe that?

How can this possibly happen?

Does public opinion and council motions mean nothing?

What kind of country do we live in now?

This is not over.

So here it is!

This is the latest on our position here at the Arts Lodge, we held another rally before our deputation, yet again with a great turn out of support, yet our currupt Tory council with the help of UKIP voted together against the motion of "ensuring" we stay till the end of our lease.

For petition 16 / against 22 / abstained 2.

...or watch it on the council site here...

Watch the whole thing if you'd like but if you want to jump in at the relevant points, fast forward to the times below:

Time Event
02:35 (Mad Hatter! Walks In)
08:50 Mark Lewis Deputation
12:49 Donna Trump Mistake ;) \ Me and Mrs Jones Lyrics
15:00 Give Respect to the Leader - M.L. (Why?)
16:20 Hilary Reed Deputation and Lawful quality impact Plan
22:00 Donna Jones
29:10 Gerald Vernon Jackson Speech
34:20 Cllr Hunt
37:40 Confirms It is some council Officers!
39:17 Cllr Godlier UKIP petition fraud
41:02 Float someones Business!
41:26 Cllr Ferret
43:55 Petitioner
44:19 Me and Mrs Jones Vid
44:37 Donna Trump - Fit and Prefer Person?
45:35 Cllr Willington
49:30 Cllr Bird Query
50:40 Cllr Mason
53:00 Cllr Stubbs
58:30 Cllr Pitt
01:02:00 Cllr Jones video
01:04:30 Public Toilets
01:05:49 Sue c Chucks Quotes from public gallery
01:08:00 Victorious Petition by deception
01:10:00 Private Company not CIC
01:11:10 Profits to Director DEFAMATION!

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