Carnegie – where are we now?

Since the closure of the Library the Carnegie Community Trust has continued discussions with Lambeth Council about the future of the building and is still on track to secure the Asset Transfer of the Carnegie building into community ownership through the Trust. It is now clear that maintaining the status-quo at Carnegie is not an option. The Council’s insistence on putting a gym into the building compromised the Trust’s Preferred Option for the mix of library and other uses. Nevertheless, we now have a window of opportunity to secure the long-term future by transferring the building into community ownership. For this to happen successfully, Herne Hill has to set aside past differences and pull together as a community.

Lambeth intend to give a lease to Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) whilst the Community Trust application for Asset Transfer progresses. At the point of Asset Transfer the Trust would acquire the building from Lambeth under a long lease that would, among other things, enable it to raise capital and revenue funding for improvements, staffing and equipment.

Like others, the Trust was appalled by the Council’s initial proposal to adapt the main room in Carnegie as a gym. So, our  engineers looked at the basement and advised that it could be excavated to create space for a gym at reasonable cost. We proposed this compromise to Lambeth, who conducted their own technical assessment, and GLL and this alternative was accepted.  This means all the existing space on the ground and first floors will be available for the library and other community uses, and the Trust can deliver on its Preferred Option vision.

The gym will attract people who might otherwise not set foot in the Carnegie and we hope they will also use the library, café, community activities and enterprise centre in the building. This will widen the sense of community ownership of Carnegie.

GLL need planning permission to develop a gym in this Grade II Listed Building; plans will be exhibited for consultation. The change of location of the gym from the main hall to the basement demonstrates Lambeth’s recognition of the importance of the building to the community. Our job now is to safeguard the building for the community and Asset Transfer will do this.

To achieve the Asset Transfer the Community Trust needs to present a strong (financially sound) Business Plan led by Trustees who can demonstrate good management skills and have the engaged support of the community.  A timeline showing the work of the Trust and its forerunners over 5 years can be found here. We now all need to build on this and the Trust needs the help of everyone who has at heart a passion for the future of this wonderful building and the flourishing of our community.

The Trust will make an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund and other funding bodies for the grants to refurbish the building, including improved access, easier circulation inside the building, a purpose-designed café, relocating the lift, upgrading utility services and other important improvements. Preliminary meetings have been held with HLF who have given indications that they will welcome an application from the Community Trust.

The present trustees set their first goal as getting the project to a point where it was either viable or not viable. Now we know that it can be delivered. More trustees are now needed who will be representative of the diversity in Herne Hill and who have the skills and commitment to deliver this multi-million pound project.  A selection process will begin soon.  There will be an independently-chaired selection panel and applicants will be asked to demonstrate proactive commitment to this project as well as local knowledge, experience and skills that contribute to its workload.  To register interest in becoming a trustee please email  [email protected]  requesting details of the  responsibilities, selection criteria and an application form. Once the project is further developed and the building is usable the Trust will then move to become a membership organisation.

CCT April 2016

Update on discussions with Lambeth Council

Following discussions with Lambeth Council, the Carnegie Community Trust remains committed to taking ownership of the Carnegie building in Herne Hill, for a Community Hub and Enterprise Library. It is clear that this does not require the participation of Greenwich Leisure Ltd to secure the building’s future as a community-owned asset

Our Asset Transfer Application and Business Plan were developed with no knowledge of the Council’s discussions with Greenwich Leisure Ltd and did not include a gym as this option had been rejected in our consultation.

Now, as a result of strong representations by us, the Council has agreed that, whilst it continues to be committed to developing a “Healthy Living Centre” at the Carnegie, its preferred option now is to excavate and locate the gym in the basement. So, Lambeth is currently obtaining a technical assessment to determine the feasibility and cost of this proposal.

The Trust remains implacably opposed to any decision to hand over the Carnegie building to a commercial entity so that it ceases to be a public, community asset.

The Trust is willing to continue discussions if the basement proposal is achievable. If acceptable terms can be agreed we will work hard with Lambeth to get the building reopened for the whole community as quickly as possible.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

22nd March 2016

Lambeth’s Culture 2020 Decision – Friday, 4th March, 2016

The Carnegie Community Trust strongly opposes the Council’s plan to lease the Carnegie Library building to Greenwich Leisure Ltd to operate as a private gym. Although provision for an unstaffed library is proposed, the Carnegie would effectively cease to be a facility open and free to all local residents. This is not acceptable to us or the wider community.

The Trust has always believed that, given the scale of spending cuts imposed on Lambeth by central government (56%), it was unrealistic to maintain the status quo in the Carnegie. Change was always inevitable.

We still believe that our proposal to have the building transferred to a charitable Trust, accountable to the people of Herne Hill, is the best way to maintain the Carnegie as a building that will house a library and a wide range of other new activities.  A lot of work that will enable us to set this vision in place has now been completed.

We are now considering the best way forward.  Having passed Stage 1 of the Council’s Asset Transfer procedure that would enable the Trust to acquire the building, and been advised by Lambeth to continue this process to completion, we are investigating the implications and options in light of the Lambeth decision with regard to Greenwich Leisure Ltd.

We will continue to press Lambeth not to proceed with its current proposal with Greenwich Leisure and, instead, transfer the building into community ownership through the Carnegie Community Trust.

Carnegie UK Trust supports our plans for a Community Hub with library

We’re delighted that the Carnegie UK Trust supports our plans to take the Carnegie Library into community ownership and set up a community hub. The Carnegie UK Trust is a charitable foundation established in 1913 by Andrew Carnegie to continue his legacy.

Responding to a letter from our Chair, Carol Boucher, CUKT made it clear that they cannot intervene in the Council’s plans for the library. But, after careful consideration and detailed scrutiny, they fully support our plans and the establishment of a charitable community trust, which is in keeping with Andrew Carnegie’s vision and charitable aims.

The letter says:
“We strongly believe that libraries are an essential part of community life, contributing to individual and community wellbeing and lifelong learning, as well as providing access to computers and online services for all. The Enterprise, Cultural and Community Hub that you propose, with its free access to books, computers and learning events for all children, and its charged for business area are in line with this view and the Trust’s thinking on the future of libraries.”

It goes on to say:
“Your proposal to retain a core service that is free and open to all alongside a proposition to facilitate income generation reflects the need for libraries to think innovatively about the services they offer and how they offer them in order to be sustainable in the longer term.”

We’d like to thank the Carnegie UK Trust for their support and for taking the time to consider our proposals.

Read the full letter here.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

New activities for Carnegie Community Hub

Carnegie Community Trust (CCT) is testing some new activities at Carnegie to see what might or might not work in addition to the Library activities already established.

South London Cares…at Carnegie
The SLC programme is one new sort of event that CCT is trialling. These social gatherings that ‘mix the generations’ have proved popular. The free evening dinner parties are very well attended (diners over 60, volunteers under 30). The food is cooked off-site and reheated at Carnegie, with a hot pudding as well as the hot main course. If you haven’t tried it yet, why not come along?  The next dinner party is on Tuesday, 16th February from 5.30 to 8pm. Continue reading New activities for Carnegie Community Hub

2016: We are on course to save the Carnegie

Good News

In December we presented our case to Lambeth Council’s Asset Transfer Technical Panel for the Carnegie Herne Hill Community Trust to take ownership of the Carnegie Library building. We passed, and were given the “green light” to complete the work needed to enable Lambeth to transfer the building to us. We will be submitting the next batch of supporting documents, the Business Plan, in the Spring. This is the break-through for Herne Hill.

A Little Bit of History

In 2012 Lambeth Council conducted a review of its library service and concluded that it would no longer provide the library service in the Carnegie building. The number of users had been steadily declining from that for which the building had been designed and the library now occupied only part of the available space. So rather than close the building Lambeth proposed it be adapted as an independent Community Hub to be owned and operated by a charitable trust.

A group of local people, including The Friends of Carnegie Library, came together in a Project Group to explore the feasibility of that idea and, if it was judged to be viable, to set in place the necessary arrangements. Lambeth set a number of rigorous conditions to meet before the building could be transferred and over two years the Project Group worked to comply. Once the proposal was sufficiently advanced the Project Group handed over responsibility to The Carnegie Herne Hill Community Trust CIO, the legal entity needed to apply for grants, to take it to completion.

The Project Group and now the Community Trust have always been adamant that the Community Hub must contain a library. The Hub must also take its theme from the library and become a centre for educational, cultural and community uses. With architects and other consultants, a range of options was developed and put to the community. A Preferred Option has now been agreed that embraces a library and a wide range of existing and new activities. It specifically rules out a private nursery, private flats or a private gym.

The Way Ahead

• The Community Trust believes that neither preserving the status quo in the Carnegie nor converting it to a gym are realistic options
• The Community Trust will take ownership of the building to be a community-owned and operated Community Hub
• The building will include an Enterprise Library
• The Community Trust will work with whichever agency is chosen to operate the library in the building — Lambeth Council, Greenwich Leisure Ltd, or The Friends of Carnegie Library. If no-one else will do it, then the Community Trust will operate a staffed library to offer the same services as today
• The Community Trust was not consulted on, nor had advance notice about, the Lambeth proposal to transfer the building to Greenwich Leisure Ltd and has not since been in discussion with either of them about this
• The Community Trust does not believe it makes sense to close the library on 1st April, close the building for capital works (changing rooms, showers etc.) and re-open it as a private gym with a tiny library in it. The Community Trust has stated our opposition to that course of action
• The Community Trust plans to recruit a fully representative Board of Trustees, supported by a membership organisation, to own and operate the building
• The Community Trust aims to take ownership of the Carnegie building as soon as possible this year and maintain it for existing and new activities.

Our Vision

By the end of this government’s term of office Lambeth’s budget will have been cut by 60%. It is inconceivable that the existing Lambeth Library Service can be unaffected. So we believe a way must be found, while there is still time, to transfer the Carnegie Library building to a charitable and representative local trust and maintain a library in it. To achieve this the Community Trust will negotiate with the Council to get the best deal we can for Herne Hill. It is naïve to campaign to maintain the status quo in Carnegie when we know Council budget cuts are unavoidable. The Community Trust now has viable alternative proposals to maintain the Carnegie as a community resource both to serve its existing users and offer services and activities to the other 25,000 people who live within a 15-20 minute walk and, indeed, those living beyond.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO
January 2016

Expression of Interest for Asset Transfer

On 14th December 2015 the Carnegie Community Trust presented to Lambeth Council our Stage 1 Expression of Interest for asset transfer of the Carnegie Library to the Trust. The slides we presented are here.

In principle there is a viable financial plan and work on the Business Plan for Stage 2 of the asset transfer process is our current focus.

The Stage 1 Expression of Interest and our plans for a Community Hub and Enterprise Library were well received and we move into the new year confident that there is a real opportunity to put in place a strong, community focussed plan for the whole building, including a continuing library, working with the Council and with Greenwich Leisure as necessary.

The presentation slides have been added to Project Documents.

Carnegie Community Trust

Constitution of the Carnegie Community Trust CIO

Constitution of the Carnegie Community Trust CIO

In October 2015 Carnegie Community Trust was registered by the Charity Commission as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). This is the next stage of evolution of our project group which has been working since 2012, with the support of Lambeth Council, on plans to secure a long-term future for the Carnegie Library for use by the local community.

Our new constitution has been added to Project Documents.

Our founding Trustees are former members of the project group. We intend to appoint additional Trustees through an open recruitment process with the objective of ensuring that the necessary skills, expertise and diversity are represented in the final appointments.  Trustees will be recruited with the help of independent advice, and in accordance with best practice including the Charities Commission guidance. We also plan to invite all members of the community and interested parties to become Associate Members with the aim of building a membership base supporting the aims of the Trust.  We will publish more information about how to apply to become a Trustee and how to join as an Associate Member as soon as possible.

The founding Trustees are:

Carol Boucher

Philip Isaac

Frances Lamb

Helen Schofield

Fred Taggart

More information about the Trustees is available here.

A Future for Carnegie Library

Earlier this year, with the support of Lambeth Council, we held a public consultation into potential uses for the building. We can now set out our Preferred Option for the future use of the Carnegie Library and Building, responding to the local consultation and to recent developments.

  • Our Preferred Option is for transfer of the building to the Carnegie Community Trust under the Lambeth Asset Transfer Policy to become a Community Hub and Enterprise Library
  • The Community Hub and Enterprise Library would support enterprise, study, learning, arts, performance and heritage, building on and expanding its current activities. For details of our vision see Preferred Option November 2015 in Project Documents
  • Carnegie Community Trust wishes to work with Lambeth Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, Carnegie Trust UK and all local groups to achieve the earliest possible transfer of this important heritage building to the guardianship of the Carnegie Community Trust on behalf of the whole community. We believe that this option is a viable alternative to transferring the building to GLL and is our only chance of keeping the building as a genuine community asset, managed by and for local people. We hope that you will support our proposal.