A MESSAGE TO THE REAL CARNEGIE LIBRARY COMMUNITY SUPPORTERS FROM NEWS FROM CRYSTAL PALACE (AS ‘LABOUR GROUP’ ADMITS THEY WERE TOLD IN ADVANCE THEY HAD WON)
DON’T GIVE UP
DON’T GIVE UP
DON’T GIVE UP
The real community supporters of Carnegie library, Herne Hill will still be reeling / gutted / utterly horrified and appalled at Friday’s announcement that Lambeth council had decided to let the Carnegie Community Trust, a secretive, self-electing group of five which includes two former Lambeth Labour councilors and the life partner of a former Lambeth labour council party leader, take over their adored library.
And the real supporters of the library will be even angrier with today’s (Wednesday’s) announcement that the Carnegie Community Trust knew IN ADVANCE they were being given the library.
Lambeth council have given the Carnegie Library Association – a group made up of community organisations and which holds open elections and which also wants to run the library- just SEVEN DAYS to appeal the decision.
The appeal will be decided by the recently appointed cabinet member for equalities and culture Cllr Sonia Winifred.
If Sonia Winifred decides to uphold the appeal, she may well have to defend that decision in court.
Sonia Winifred needs to make her decision very, very carefully.
She may not be aware of it but the organisation now known as the Carnegie Community Trust had been holding secret meetings with Lambeth council since sometime in 2012.
Council officers attended these meetings. At least two Labour councillors – Paul Gadsby and Jack Holborn – were, at various stages, members.
The Friends of Carnegie Library, who would have been the obvious organisation for Lambeth council to sit down and have discussions with, were never even asked.
They never even knew about the existence of the organisation until one of her predecessors, Cllr Jane Edbrooke, let the cat out of the bag in December 2014 – two or three years after the secret group had begun.
Sonia Winifred also needs to be aware of smoke and mirrors:
In November 2015 Cllr Edbrooke, in response to a members written question at full council, said: “As agreed at cabinet, officers and I will work with the Carnegie Community Trust to develop a workable proposal.”
But that wasn’t what was agreed. The minutes for the meeting – held on October 12th 2015 – state:
“Regarding Carnegie –the Council would work with local groups to shape the leisure offer, any proposal must however be at no cost to the Council as there was no budget available after the 1st April.”
Jeff Doorn, who chairs the Friends of Carnegie Library, recalls his experiences with the organisation now known as Carnegie Community Trust as follows:
“When the library was designated a ‘community hub’ a Friends-led development group should have been set up, with other stakeholder groups.
“Instead, the ward councillors hijacked the process, and (then-cllr) Carol Boucher drew ex-cllr Fred Taggart and Paul McGlone into a ‘Project Group’.
“I was on that group, and soon found myself the only voice speaking for the library service and the Friends’ membership. “The three steering group members Carol, Fred & Frances ganged up on me and told me to resign, then treated me as though I had.
“The Friends committee put forward as Friends’ rep Stephen (who was not at that time on the committee but was a former chairman); but they excluded him by never letting him know when they were meeting.
“I chased them several times, and was eventually informed the Project Group no longer existed and they’d formed a Shadow Trust Board, the implication being there was no room for a Friends’ rep.”
The officers report which gave the Carnegie Community Trust the green light says:
4.6 The Carnegie Library Association demonstrated good community engagement, its representatives were optimistic and were keen to run a library……..
4.7….Finally whilst the panel were content that the group (CCT) would be able to build on current community engagement, some work would need to be done in re-building relationships with the council.
But the officers report says 4.4…..The assessment for community engagement was that the
group (CCT) demonstrated local engagement and included an ongoing marketing and communications strategy, however, the specific evidence of engagement was not included in the business plan.
The problem the officers report which backed Carnegie Community Trust totally ignores is that the community of Herne Hill did not and do not want to engage with the Carnegie Community Trust in any way, shape or form whatsoever.
Cllr Winifred will need to see what the Carnegie Community Trust’s “community engagement” actually was before making her decision.
“THERE IS NO REPLY BUTTON SO NO-ONE CAN RESPOND TO THEM”
News From Crystal Palace asked the Carnegie Library Association for their own evidence on community engagement. This is their reply:
“As CLA was formed by Friends of Carnegie Library in partnership with other user groups (Ruskin Readers, Chess Club, Silver Surfers, Book at Breakfast, Parents & Toddlers, Monthly Book Group, Carnegie Creatives) we already had wide links and representation in the community. Other groups wrote letters of support (including the yoga & pilates classes).
In September 2016 we held two public meetings and also conducted community surveys (paper & online) which attracted wide response, the analysis of which helped inform our business plan. We pubished the business plan on our website.
As a democratically accountable organisation, we have to date attracted some 310 individual members. We held an AGM in March 2017 at which nine trustees were elected (the trustees are ethnically diverse, gender balanced & with an age range of 17 – 76).
By contrast, CCT has zero community engagement. Their predecessor Project Group’s options survey in December 2014 (results published Easter 2015) had 187 recorded responses.
Since then, PG/Shadow Trust Board/CCT have met in secret, developed their business plan behind closed doors and have not published it.
The five trustees are self-appointed and there is no scope for membership or elections. From time to time they email a website posting to a mailing list which includes many who never asked to be on it and are (judging from comments I receive) outraged by the arrogance and misinformation therein. There is no reply button, so no one can respond to them.” – Jeff Doorn
News From Crystal Palace understands that certain things are going on behind-the-scenes which we are not yet privy to but will be. And when we are made privy to those things we’ll let you know. So please:
DON’T GIVE UP
DON’T GIVE UP
DON’T GIVE UP
UPDATE: LABOUR GROUP KNEW THEY HAD WON IN ADVANCE
In a statement on its website the CCT say: “CCT had been informally and confidentially notified in advance of the decision and respected the council’s request not to disclose this information until both bidding organisations had received their formal letters simultaneously from the council.
“We understood that these letters would be received on Friday 21st July ahead of a leaflet distribution planned for Saturday 22nd July.
“This sequence of events is really unfortunate and we hope that future communications about the Carnegie will be better co-ordinated by the council.”
The CCT statement does NOT say WHEN they were “informally and confidentially notified” of the decision. Or by who…..
(Updated Wednesday July 26th 2017)