OPINION – CARNEGIE LIBRARY HERNE HILL: “After 2022 a rent well below market value is being offered”

OPINION – CARNEGIE LIBRARY HERNE HILL: ” “After 2022 a rent well below market value is being offered”

The latest communique from Carnegie Community Trust beggars belief.

This is a group which has been meeting in secret with Lambeth councillors and council officers since 2012 and whose existence was unknown until December 2014.

And they still haven’t got their act together.

Five years on and the CCT, Lambeth’s “preferred community partner” – in preference to the community-based Carnegie Library Association – are now saying “we are sorry to report that we are still not on the same page as the council.”

They complain that:”The problems started in 2015 when the ‘Culture 2020’ report was published and we discovered that, despite the initial commitment and investment from Lambeth, the building was to be handed over to Greenwich Leisure for use as a gym with some minor library provision.

“At this juncture we decided that in those circumstances our project could not continue…..”

OUR PROJECT????

“The project was given a reprieve after CCT appealed to councillors who then amended the Culture 2020 cabinet recommendations.”

So it’s now official. Lambeth DID plan to turn most of the library into an unwanted gym. And Lambeth backed off because of a gang of just five individuals who wrote to them. In secret.

More revelations from the untrusted Trust: “In our plans, the excavation of the basement was proposed as necessary in order to provide a sustainable income stream, although our preferred use for it would not have been a gym.

“This was because our consultation results showed local opposition to this use.”

The Friends of Carnegie Library, Defend the Ten and library users and campaigners have all been saying they did not want the gym for years.

And Lambeth council ignored them.

But listened to their Labour chums.

The CCT then come up with this priceless gem: “CCT felt that this could be an acceptable compromise given that GLL could be the reliable anchor tenant we were seeking, so ensuring an income stream sufficient to sustain the community building as a whole.”

BUT THERE ISN’T ONE. GREENWICH LEISURE ARE GETTING THE BUILDING RENT FREE FOR THE FIRST FIVE YEARS.

AND THE PEOPLE OF HERNE HILL WERE NOT EVEN AWARE AT THE TIME THIS LITTLE GROUP WAS ACTING FOR AND SPEAKING FOR THEM ON THEIR BEHALF.

The CCT: “After 2022 a rent well below the market value is being offered. “As charity trustees, we have a fiduciary duty to ensure that we are receiving best value from the rental of space.

“We are advised that such an arrangement would contravene charity law and likely make capital funding for the restoration of the building impossible to secure, as well as leaving a significant shortfall in the anticipated revenue stream for that space.”

CCT are also now criticising the plans for the garden saying they will deter funders and restrict the use of the outside garden spaces by the community and residents of the flats above the library.

“The undue haste with which the council is now pursuing its agreement with GLL is jeopardising future funding for the Carnegie in both revenue and capital terms.”

You’ve been meeting the council in secret for five years. And you’ve only just woken up to that fact? Campaigners have been warning for ages about the garden being wrecked.

The CCT also say: “We have a unique opportunity to secure the long-term future of the building with a heritage regeneration project providing investment of £5m or more and completing a Community Asset Transfer guaranteeing that this precious building will stay as a public building with a library in it for the use of everyone in the area.

“Without this investment and community ownership the building could survive in the short-term, but would continue to be gradually degraded by neglect and inappropriate alterations and inevitably end up in the private sector.

“A gym would sit nicely within a development of luxury flats.”

Nobody locally is going to buy your crocodile tears / weasel words.

It would be best if Carnegie Community Trust withdraws, leaving the way for the Carnegie Library Association to be the remaining “preferred community partner” – preferred by the real Herne Hill community. And if Lambeth council’s Labour lemmings don’t prefer it, TOUGH.

But maybe the lemmings would. Maybe that’s been the idea all along since 2012..

Carnegie Library Association take the building over. Then they don’t have the money to run it given there’s tenants in the basement paying NO RENT for five years. (Lambeth council tenants and leaseholders please note. What’s sauce for Greenwich Leisure….)

Then Lambeth council can go and sell the building off blaming lack of funds / Government cutbacks even though they have stashed £210 million in banks and building societies in just two years.

Which may have been someone’s stinking, rotten, odious plan in the first place.

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