The following open letter has been sent to Herne Hill ward Cllr Jim Dickson; Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes and Cllr Jack Holborn, another Herne Hill ward councillor.

The letter relates to a meeting held at St Saviour’s church, Herne Hill Road to inform residents living near the Carnegie library of the proposed building works in the library’s basement and the setting up of a Carnegie liaison and co-ordination group which all three attended.

News From Crystal Palace have asked Cllrs Dickson and Holborn and Helen Hayes – who had to leave the meeting early – for their reaction. If we get any replies, we’ll let you know – Ed.


Dear Jim, Jack, Helen,

I should first identify myself from the meeting on Thursday evening:  I am the grandmother who expressed my disappointment, amongst other feelings, about everything you (and Lambeth Labour) have done since closing Carnegie Library and up to this date.  I also said that you were a very rude man, Jim.  I apologise for my outbursts but not for the sentiments expressed!

Helen, you missed all this because you had to leave before any of the interesting stuff began to be discussed.  Jack, you peeked into the circle from behind Jim, so I hope you got it all.  Jim, you really were very rude to people on Thursday evening.  I recognise that chairing a meeting involves managing speakers with regard to subject matter and how much time they take.

However, your management style was incredibly self-serving.  You turned your back, on many occasions, on people you did not want to hear, or had heard enough from.   Others in the room had to say they wanted to listen in order for you to allow certain speakers to finish.

You held your out-turned hand, at arm’s length, which is a commonly known, ‘talk to the hand because I don’t want to listen’ gesture.  You also chose to wind up the meeting, just as things became more uncomfortable for you, within minutes of saying that despite 9pm approaching, the meeting could continue if that were the consensus.  These were all very manipulative and ‘Lambeth Labour agenda’-serving actions.  Shame on you!

All that aside, I must today express dismay and further upset at the flyer we all received through our doors so very early yesterday morning (8am).  What a slap in the face!  I have read Kim Lewis’s e-mail to you (yesterday) and would like to reiterate all her points.  I note that a typo shows the figure for the Flaxman refurbishment as £20,000, but we all know that was over £200,000. Thus, there is an apparently state of the art gym/sports/leisure facility within less than a 10-minute walk from Carnegie Library.  Please note the important operative word of that last sentence.

Moving on to your statement, at Thursday’s meeting, that it would be discourteous to tell the meeting which group had won the asset transfer without first having spoken to the two community groups who had made bids.  I believe this was backed up by Sharon (apologies if I have the name wrong).  Again, as Kim’s e-mail notes, the community backed Carnegie Library Association (CLA) had not been informed before the flyers went out.

However, the Carnegie Community Trust (CCT) had a statement all ready for their website.  I sincerely hope there will be an appeal.  I believe this was never a level playing field and that the community need to have a say.  I just found this on the CLA website and wonder if you have any comments…?

It feels more and more as if the original thoughts/feelings/fears, of many including myself, concerning Lambeth Labour’s plans for the Carnegie Library are coming true…  That they want the incredibly beautiful and valuable building sold off for development into private luxury apartments.

Of course, this could never be affordable housing for anyone in need in the local community.  The current position still fits that aim because nobody wants another gym (see the Flaxman paragraph above).  GLL, nor anyone else, has never produced any survey/information/data showing that the gym is going to attract custom, but simply speculative information that seems to come from nowhere.   Still, the council press on.

The gym will fail and eventually the change of use, to residential, will be applied for and granted.  Just as Lambeth Labour granted themselves planning permission, despite over 300 (I believe) objections against this abomination in the first place!  A private gym in the basement of a block of luxury apartment would be very desirable, I imagine.

I believe that CCT was originally set up to do Lambeth Labours’ bidding and that the two will continue to work very closely going forward.    It should be noted that putting the word ‘community’ into their name does not make it so!

I’ve just seen this online.  Any comments…

And this…

… with your apology at the bottom – which is NOT good enough and indicative of the shambolic mismanagement highlighted by the People’s Audit.  Jim, your e-mail says, “The letter to the bidders were delivered this morning.”

Well, I have been reliably informed that the e-mail from Sue Foster was sent at 9.58am, so it appears to be a very hasty scramble following the delivery of shiny A4 leaflets to local residents, two hours earlier.  In fact, I hear that some were delivered in Milkwood Road on Thursday evening!!  You also say, “I’m happy to accept that the council does owe both bidders and apology”.

Again I am reliably informed that no such apology has been received by the CLA (at the time of writing).  (I hope you will note that I use quotation marks because I do not want to be held responsible for the spelling and grammar used in your message.)  This situation is shameful and unprofessional conduct by any standard!

You repeatedly talked, on Thursday,  about ‘the consultations’ and ‘giving the local community a voice’, and only grudgingly conceded that you had actually only provided exhibitions, when shouted down by people at the meeting.  In fact, the local community have never been heard, despite speaking out on many occasions and in many forms.  

Plus, the exhibitions served only to give a vague idea of Lambeth Labour’s intentions, with many questions remaining and with people being told that many issues could not be addressed until the asset transfer was decided.  In reality, I believe that Lambeth Labour always knew who the lease would go to but it just didn’t suit your plans to let the knowledge go public.

I don’t claim to understand the intricacies, organisational or financial, of the Barnes plan, but that is a case in point for the community not being listened to.  Jim, your only comment on this, on Thursday, was that it didn’t deliver the necessary savings in time.  Well, neither has anything that you and Lambeth Labour have done since.

By now Susanna Barnes’ plan could have been up and running AND bringing in those savings, but instead you have chosen a route with escalating costs and continued disruption to all.  Well, except perhaps those with vested interests in this ridiculous redevelopment.

I shall continue to attend as many meeting as I am able to get to and will continue to mourn the disgraceful closure of a much loved and well used, Carnegie Library.  It seems that Lambeth Labour always have the upper hand no matter who or how many people object or protest and you now also have your very own ‘community’ group to help you through with your very unpopular and unwanted plans – where is the justice for the local community in all this?!

I have just found this pledge from one of your flyers, “Labour Lambeth is on your side. Our approach is to be ambitious for everyone and rooted in fairness. In tough economic times we are working with residents to get things done.” And this, “Together we will continue to make Lambeth a place we are all proud of and because we listen to you, your priorities are our pledges.”  When do you plan to start being fair and doing that all important listening?

As I said at the meeting, I am bitterly disappointed in Lambeth Labour and having been a Labour voter for most of my life, I can no longer find any reason to continue to remain so.  I feel you have let me and my family and my local community down, very badly.

Yours sincerely, Dr Gilly Nash Mother, Grandmother, Carnegie Library supporter, BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD Psychology


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