SECRET COUNCIL EMAILS ON CARNEGIE LIBRARY REVEALED. WHAT LAMBETH DIDN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW


Secret emails about the Carnegie library, Herne Hill have FINALLY been revealed by Lambeth council following a series of Freedom of Information requests by News From Crystal Palace.

The only controversial element the emails reveals relates to consultations on a questionnaire issued by the Carnegie library project group / shadow trust board.

The freshly disclosed emails show that on May 25th 2015 the chair of the Friends of Carnegie library writes to a council officer, saying:

I was rather surprised to learn that only 187 questionnaires were received in the above consultation conducted by the Project Group/Shadow Trust Board. I was even more surprised not to see any sign of my responses in the published reports of comments and suggestions.

Considering that I put my completed questionnaire in the box well before the closing date, I cannot imagine why my comments were not recorded. I understand someone who completed the questionnaire online also failed to find his comments in the report.

By contrast, the consultation conducted by the Friends in 2000, in which all responses were posted direct to the outside assessor, attracted 675 returns, and all comments were published. In those days we did not have the benefit of online facilities.

What does not surprise me is that the only option to receive more positive than negative responses was “Library as is”. In my view the validity of the exercise is questionnable; but as there is obviously no enthusiasm or support for the Shadow Trust Board’s proposals, no further time or expenditure should be wasted on them. Regards, REDACTED Chair

The officer – who News From Crystal Palace are not identifying – eventually writes back on June 17th 2015 to say he will “look into the issue you have raised.”

On July 28th 2015 the officer writes back: “I have sought input from all concerned. At this stage I am being advised that all the information was collated and included. I have also wrote to (equivalent of one line redacted ). So before providing a final response I am awaiting feedback from (initials redacted) Best wishes.”

If there was a final response this does not appear in the emails.

It was back in late 2017 when Lambeth council released the first of 20 emails relating to the library following an FOI request – along with the dates of 19 more. But when News From Crystal Palace asked for the remaining 19, Lambeth’s Freedom of Information team refused, so we appealed to the Information Commissioner’s Office. (Please see Background to the News).

On January 3rd this year the ICO emailed to say they would be issuing a decision notice upholding the council’s application of regulation 12(4)(b) to our request for information.

News From Crystal Palace have been waiting for the report from (the very nice people at) the Information Commissioner’s Office when, completely out of the blue, the following email arrived from Lambeth’s FOI team:

Dear Mr Green

Following discussion with the Information Commissioner, regarding the documents requested in the 21 requests submitted last year, we have decided to release redacted versions of these documents to you via Egress.

It has been necessary to redact personal data from these documents in accordance with s40 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Please see the below link:-
Visit (link deleted by NFCP) to access it online. You will need to create an Egress ID and password. This takes approximately 1 minute and will only be required once.

Please note that any further requests made relating to the library will be likely to be considered vexatious.

Kind regards Jane Shields LLB LLM Policy & Communications Manager (Words placed in bold type by News From Crystal Palace – Ed.)

Note: The emails are dated in three clusters: from April 4th to July 10th 2012; from May 4th to November 21st 2015 and from January 29th to April 26th 2016.

The vast majority of the emails are  just routine and involve sending copies of newsletters or arranging meetings. There are emails relating to an interest by the Waldorf school doing something in the Carnegie library – but it’s not clear what.

And any further FOI request from News From Crystal Palace asking about this would almost certainly be considered…….vexatious. – Ed.

FURTHER READING: LAMBETH COUNCIL’S UTTERLY BONKERS REASONS FOR NOT ANSWERING FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUESTS…….(updated version) This website February 17, 2017

MOCK THE WEEK: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAMBETH-STYLEThis website February 24th 2017

LAMBETHWATCH – UTTERLY BONKERS PART TWO: Lambeth council’s latest reason for refusing a Freedom of Information request:  “PEOPLE NOT INTERESTED IN SECRET CARNEGIE LIBRARY GROUP” (And estate agents should note that Herne Hill is in a wetlands area.)This website July 12th 2017

BACKGROUND TO THE NEWS: OUR CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER AND THE 19 ‘CARNEGIE’ E-MAILS This website March 13th 2019

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