LAMBETHWATCH TWO – CARNEGIE LIBRARY EXHIBITION
A visit to the Carnegie exhibition at St Saviour’s church hall on Herne Hill Road just down from the Carnegie library:
The poster outside announces that “the building was closed in April 2016 to be re-opened with a greater range of community uses including a neighbourhood library.”
WOW!!!! (So what was the building being used for before Lambeth shut it?)
“It is proposed that the council’s leisure provider GLL (Greenwich Leisure Ltd) will open a gym facility in the previously unused basement” said the poster outside.
(Not unused. It was, and apparently still is, being used for storage, including the storage of a load of war memorials. And where did the Home Library Service store their books?).
“During this exhibition you will be able to see the following information: heritage information; future transport; information regarding users of the building; what the neighbourhood library will offer; feedback and questions from the previous exhibition…..”
Interesting word that. Feedback. The dictionary definition says information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement.
Inside the church hall there wasn’t any actual feedback. So criticisms of their plans were not mentioned. Surprise! But they did print a load of questions which people had asked – and their responses. These questions and (part of the) answers included:
Question: “Will the garden be restored and open for the community?”
Lambeth: “We anticipate that the garden will be used as it was before.”
What Lambeth DON’T SAY is that the garden will be one-third of its current size because there’s a new boiler room, and other equipment being put in there. The new reception area fronting homes on Ferndene Road will be open from 6.30 am.
And most of the trees are going to be felled – although that did not stop someone drawing a huge tree on the plans on show.
“What is the cost of excavating the basement at Carnegie and who will pay for it?”
Part of the answer reads: “The cost of the basement excavation at Carnegie has been estimated to be in the region of £600,000 and this will be met by the £3 million capital investment fund (this is NOT part of the general libraries budget.”
This highlights one of the problems with Lambeth council.They will not move monies from one area of a council budget to another. So they don’t have the money for libraries because it’s not in the library budget – but they do have £600,000 in the capital investment fund. Bonkers. Utterly bonkers.
And how’s the building going to be staffed?
“Will there be staff on site at all times when the building reopens?”
Part of the answer reads: “Yes, GLL staff will be present at all times in the gym area and on the ground floor when the building initially reopens…..”
(So GLL staff in the library – or will they be putting gym equipment in there as well?)
“…..When a community group is in place in the medium term it is planned that their staff and / or volunteers will be present on the ground and first floors of the building.”
There are already concerns locally about unaccompanied children using the library when there are no LIBRARY staff on the premises. So – police checks all round then – including GLL. And the new community organisation pay for any staff?????
The actual plans show that while the two sections of the front part of the library are listed as “flexible community space and community library” the back part of the library is listed as “flexible community space.”
Which could mean anything. Literally – anything.
(Clarification: In our story on Monday News From Crystal Palace said we understood that only the front left-hand side of the library would be “flexible community space and community library.”
That’s because the plans we were shown actually said that. By the time the exhibition started the plans had been amended so that both front sides of the library by the main entrance would be “flexible community space and community library.” So someone somewhere must have got cold feet.
Problem is Lambeth are not trusted. They can just change this on a whim. Any planning permission has to preclude gym use on the ground floor as a condition of permission.
And the clients listed on the plans are not Lambeth council – but Greenwich Leisure Limited.
There were also a whole load of platitudes that the reopened “Carnegie building” (they’ve dropped the word ‘library’) will be home to a neighbourhood library provided by Lambeth library service.
“It is proposed that this will include a comprehensive book stock at the same level, reflecting local needs and culture and community languages; DVD’s ebooks, audio books, large print books, free Wi-Fi access with computers, quiet study space, self-service book lending, activities provided by Lambeth libraries, community grou[ps, a weekly session for under-fives, a monthly reading group…..
(How are they going to fit all that into the front part of the ground floor, you may be wondering.)
……longer opening hours (the gym will be open from 6.30 am to 10 pm) than “the previous Carnegie library” expected to be up to 70 hours per week staff on site at all times (note: it doesn’t say library staff) including Lambeth libraries staff present every day for TWO HOURS. Oh yes – and a community reading garden. (See above).
The new reception area fronting homes on Ferndene Road will be open from 6.30 am. (Pity the people living opposite). It will include aluminium-framed windows. On a grade two listed building. By approving that Lambeth will have set a precedent for every other listed building in the borough.
Lambeth also produced a map showing the nearest gyms. It’s slightly off target, so the Carnegie library does not sit exactly in the middle. According to this map there are no gyms within five minutes walk of the library. Other gyms are available. GO Mammoth is the only gym within 10 minutes walk.
The only other gyms highlighted on the map are JAGS sports club and Fison Fitness. Oh – and Brixton leisure centre. Run by the aforementioned GLL.
Library campaigners maintain there are eight gyms in the area. If we haven’t mentioned your gym, please feel free to drop us a line.
Lambeth are keen to make out how wonderful they are when it comes to libraries. Durning and Tate Lambeth South libraries – one of which was set to become a GLL gym – are now a “joint town centre service” while Waterloo has moved from its current building to the Oasis centre in Kennington Road with “longer opening hours.”
(No mention that Waterloo’s new location is in a cramped building with less books, less librarians, less library staff.)
Meanwhile at the Minet library which houses the borough’s archives (some of which have apparently been moved to the nuclear bunker on the Central Hill estate, Crystal Palace – which Lambeth want to demolish) the official line is “It is still proposed that a neighbourhood library will re-open in the building in 2017.”
What it doesn’t say is whether or not this will be with a GLL gym. They are waiting on two consultants reports about the archives. “Once the archives study is complete the best use of the whole building can be considered in the light of the findings.” (So that’s where GLL’s second gym will go.)
There was no mention of the Home Library Service which operated out of Carnegie. Perhaps Lambeth have already shut that down. Probably because of even less Government funding.
Lambeth Labour went into overdrive on their Twitter site about the exhibition with a pile of tweets from various cabinet members and councilors all illustrating the leaflet (seven separate tweets in all) announcing the exhibition. (Google ‘Lambeth Labour Twitter’).
Oh and if you were planning to go to this exhibition it was only open on Tuesday from 9am to 1pm and Wednesday midday to 6pm.) So you’ve missed it. The word consultation wasn’t mentioned. So Lambeth can hardly call it consultation. No doubt they’ll try to. Happy days.
Further reading: Waterloo Library: council leader opens temporary venue by James Hatts
London SE1 website 20 September 2016