LAMBETHWATCH: NOTES ON A PREVIOUS ‘EXHIBITION’: “I DON’T KNOW” WAS THE MOST FREQUENT REPLY. CLUELESS AND UNPREPARED. STOCK ANSWERS AND EVASIONS AND, MORE FRIGHTENINGLY, A WHOLE LOAD OF SPIN.
The following “Carnegie Pop Up consultation report followed the first exhibition back in June. Taken from the Defend the Ten website what follows is the view from the library campaigners, the full report of which can be seen on the ‘Defend the Ten’ website.
Carnegie Pop Up Consultation Report 30 June 2016
Lambeth council and GLL (Greenwich Leisure Limited) ran an exhibition of plans for the Carnegie library on 21st and 22nd June 2016. The exhibition did not include a consultation on resident’s responses. The local community ran a Pop Up Carnegie library in Ruskin Park to coincide with the exhibition, and conducted a consultation using an anonymous questionnaire.
In the context of the library’s closure in April 2016, and Lambeth and GLL’s proposals to convert part of the Carnegie library into a gym, the consultation sought to understand local people’s and other library users’ views on the plans presented, and on the services they desire from Carnegie Library.
There has been no previous consultation by Lambeth council or GLL about plans for a gym.
The last consultation carried out by Lambeth, in April 2015, was on the basis of a proposal that “access to the Lambeth Community Library Fund will replace the council’s revenue budgets for library service provision in Carnegie library… we will continue to support independent charitable trusts, community trusts and enterprises to come forward… if no independent
charitable trust, community trust or enterprise comes forward by 2016 we will consult local communities on the options before making a final decision on the next steps”
The current position clearly represents a substantial change from this, and the further consultation promised by Lambeth has never been undertaken.
There were 226 responses to the survey between 21st and 30th June. This is a larger response than the Carnegie Shadow Trust’s March 2016 consultation, which was the only other occasion where local people have been consulted about potential plans for a gym in the library. It is also a more age diverse, and similarly ethnically diverse sample of opinion.
The vast majority of respondents had visited the Lambeth council/ GLL exhibition. Over 90 per cent of respondents felt the exhibition did not provide sufficient information, lacked confidence that the library will reopen soon, and did not approve of the plans overall.
When asked which of a range of services mattered most, more than two thirds of respondents said it was essential that the library offered a safe space for children, the ability to borrow from a large range of books, and was staffed by librarians.
Clearly the rationale for a gym is primarily as a revenue generator. However, it is clear from
responses – less than 10pc thought that inclusion of a gym was in any way important – that in the absence of core library facilities the overall redevelopment would not be considered successful.
What is important to you for the future of the Carnegie library?
Consultation responses about the services offered
“We need Carnegie library as an integral space for the local community. “Especially for those who are isolated and vulnerable.”
“Forget the gym – focus on a library with books for loan and space for community groups, kids activities and a public space for workshops and exhibitions. “Add a much needed cafe in the area which will also help fund the running of the library itself.”
“The library was thriving, providing learning, skills, advice & information, preventive care &
wellbeing, safe quiet study, a welcoming environment for all ages and backgrounds, where everyone belonged and felt part of the community. “Many groups and clubs met there, aiding social inclusion.
“A refuge for the vulnerable, guarding against loneliness, isolation and depression, and saving money on other services. “A ‘neighbourhood library’ as only an element disconnected from other functions and without permanent dedicated staff would be useless, inefficient and wasteful. “The library is not just a piece of real estate but an essential, inclusive place for all.”
“I have an autistic son who misses the library – and who cannot travel on his own to any other library. “This was one of the few local resources he could actively enjoy and it is now lost to him and others like him”
“It is right to have a space in my community which is owned by the community, not a money making machine run for and by people who feel they know better?”
“I would be grateful to see the library open as it is a good place to go after picking up the children from school.”
About the plans presented in the exhibition:
“Very vague, they have no real plans and admitted this in the exhibition. “Until we know what goes where nothing really to discuss, seems just a PR exercise.”
“Shocking lack of information about future plans. “Determination from councillors to open a gym, no matter what the community wants. “Where are the options?”
“The exhibition is a waste of time. “They have made zero effort to provide new information”
“Exhibition hopeless as were answers to Qs put to councillors & officers. ‘I don’t know’ was the most frequent reply. “Clueless & unprepared. “Stock answers and evasion and, more frighteningly, a whole load of spin.”
” Although Lambeth and GLL reps gave different answers to some questions, both seem intent on the gym plan. “Opening hours 6.30am- 10pm. Ludicrous on a residential road (entrance would be on Ferndene).
“When asked what level of opposition would halt the gym plan, Lambeth fudged an answer, and GLL said only if it proved impossible to dig out the basement. “Interestingly, the GLL rep referred to the exhibition as a consultation. “Left meeting feeling angry and anxious.”
“GLL exhibition was not known about by many local residents”
“The plan is unclear and seems to change. “I don’t understand why the library is closed if the planning permission hasn’t even been submitted yet”
About the overall management of Carnegie Library:
“The process has been hugely destructive of trust in the Labour Party, and Lambeth Labour in
particular and in democracy in general. “Brutalising a hugely successful and popular library is an unforgivable act of cultural social and intellectual vandalism, covered by lies and misinformation.”
“Hard budgetary choices of course, but they are choices nonetheless, and this one was badly wrong.”
“One Cllr might try mediation between the two groups. “I would welcome such an opportunity. Same Cllr thought Carnegie should reopen ahead of planned works. Yes!”
“I don’t understand why the library is currently closed. “I feel I have been deliberately misled and confused”
“Lambeth council are trying to impose incompatible and disconnected facilities, the GLL gym/ ‘healthy living centre’ being the worst.”
“I am concerned there’s is no assessment of failure. “There is no plan B”