All posts by Frances Lamb

Local meetings this week on the future of the Carnegie

We, the Trustees of Carnegie Community Trust, welcome the Friends’ arranging of two public meetings this week and we will attend the meeting on Saturday 24th September to share our thinking about a possible way forward.  Councillor Jim Dickson has advised that Lambeth will likely meet the cost of independent community mediation if this should be considered helpful in moving forward.

We cannot be at Thursday’s meeting because we will be meeting with the Council.  CCT is developing a Business Plan for the Carnegie building as a whole, to include a library and a range of employment-related and cultural resources and activities.  Our Business Plan will be submitted on 28th October.  We remain very concerned that there are two applications for Asset Transfer and thus two Business Cases.  We know that the Council wishes to see one plan.  Over the summer we have had discussions with concerned local residents to try to find a single way forward, working together.  There is clearly strong demand for a united local position, in the absence of which Carnegie is at serious risk of being lost as a community asset.  On 9th September we wrote to the Chair of the Friends to that effect.  You can read our letter here:  link  

Earlier in the summer we wrote to the Leader of the Council seeking views on certain problem issues that arise from their current proposal for Carnegie, and the challenges those issues pose for any organisation taking a transfer of the building.  Although we received a reply it did not deal with the points we raised. If you are planning to attend one of the public meetings, you may find it helpful to look at our letter dated 19th June:   link 

Both letters are on our website in Project Documents.   We welcome all comments and suggestions.   Please contact any of the Trustees individually, or email getinvolved@carnegiehernehill.org.uk

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

CCT response to the Lambeth/GLL pre-planning exhibition

Trustees of Carnegie Community Trust (CCT) visited the recent exhibition on several occasions over the two day opening period, and engaged in conversation with local residents, Lambeth councillors, Lambeth officers and GLL staff.  We have submitted a written response to the exhibition, which you can read here.

We strongly urge that GLL’s plans are revisited as a matter of urgency before any further step is taken in the planning process.  Our conclusion is that, as they stand, we would not be able to support these plans at the formal planning consultation stage.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

Fred Taggart awarded MBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Carnegie Community Trust is delighted that founding Trustee Fred Taggart has been appointed MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.   Congratulations to Fred, whose award is in recognition of his services to regeneration and charity.   CCT Chair Carol Boucher said: ‘We are thrilled that Fred has been honoured in this way.  Fred richly deserves this award for the work he has done over many years, both for us and for many other charitable organisations.’

Fred has been involved in charity and regeneration work for over 30 years.  Locally, he has for 30 years been a Trustee of the Brixton Advice Centre, 25 as Honorary Secretary, and has put together the funding to acquire and refurbish the Centre’s present offices.  The Centre has grown from 2 employees to its present 13, including solicitors, barristers and specialist advisors, and serves more than 5,000 clients each year.  The Centre is a vital part of Herne Hill and Brixton life.  Fred has also been for 15 years a Board member of South London Family Housing Association, including 3 as Chair.  He served as Chair of the Governing Body of Dick Sheppard Comprehensive School in Tulse Hill; and Chair of Governors of Willowfield School for Children with Special Needs, and Vice Chair of Governors of Jessop Junior School in Herne Hill.

Fred has also been a Trustee of community-led heritage regeneration projects in Cornwall and Derbyshire, and an advisor to many community projects across the UK.   He is a founding Trustee of The Piece Hall Trust, Halifax, which is currently implementing a £20 million regeneration project to bring this Grade 1 Georgian Yorkshire Cloth Hall back into new uses as a catalyst for regeneration in the town.

Fred is also a founding Trustee of the Crossway Foundation, a charity concerned with contemporary Middle East art that promotes educational and artistic exchanges between the UK and the Middle East.

FRED MBE pic Fred Taggart, MBE

Fred said of his award:  ‘Lambeth has a terrific community sector and I am so proud to be part of it.  It is in many ways the glue that holds our borough together.  This award came out of the blue and I am delighted.  I hope it will make everyone in the community and charitable sectors in places like Lambeth realise that our work is important and encourage us all to keep on doing it.’

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

Update on discussions with Lambeth Council

Following discussions with Lambeth Council, CCT remains committed to taking ownership of the Carnegie Library building in Herne Hill for a Community Hub and Enterprise Library.   It is clear that the participation of Greenwich Leisure Ltd is not required 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 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

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 well-being 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

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 we are trialing.   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.   link to flyer

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

The Next Chapter for the Carnegie Library

Well, now we know.   Lambeth has published its strategy for “Cultural Services by 2020”.   It proposes closing Waterloo and Minet libraries, providing the statutory service through “town centre” libraries and no longer providing a service at Carnegie, Durning and Upper Norwood.

Community groups are invited to bid to an Endowment Fund to run a community library in those buildings.   Lambeth will, crucially, continue to provide stock, technical and professional back-up.   None of this comes remotely as a surprise.   When Lambeth reviewed its library service in 2012 and declared the Carnegie to be a Community Hub it was clear that the status quo would not continue.   The building is a huge potential community asset that most local people never set foot in.   It costs £200,000 a year to run the building as a 31-hour a week library for around 1,500 adult and 1,000 children users, many of whom do not live in Lambeth.   This is difficult to justify given the cuts to other vital services.

So, the challenge is to retain the library and develop the building for wider community benefit as well as generating income to sustain it into the future.   The Project Group’s work aims at a Charitable Trust taking ownership of the building to run it as a Community Hub.   Our Architects’ Options for a mix of new uses were exhibited and consulted on.   Everything is on our website – www.carnegiehernehill.org.uk

Lambeth’s proposal to seek a community organisation to lead on running the library service came as a complete surprise; we always envisaged a Lambeth service in the building.   So we urged the Friends of Carnegie Library, via an Open Letter, to accept this challenge and be that community organisation – we would support them in every way.

At the Friends’ AGM it was announced, without incidentally any debate, that the Friends would, instead, ask Lambeth to transfer the building to their user group so that they can commercially rent out space to subsidise the library service.   It was not clear whether they will bid to the Endowment Fund if that asset transfer proposal fails.   But what is clear is that unless someone steps up the library service will close in 2016.

In our view, this is a risky strategy.   Lambeth will not allow the Friends to rent out space in a valuable building in order to subsidise a service it sees as marginal.   Unless the building is used for much wider community benefit it will be disposed of.   The Council has made clear both to us and the Friends that had the Community Hub project not been in development the Carnegie would have been added to the closure list.   So, the Friends’ strategy is doomed, despite assertions at its AGM that Lambeth will back down in the face of a campaign.

It is one thing to take a principled stand against cuts but quite another to adopt a position that will lose us our library.   So, the Community Hub project will press on, led by the Carnegie Shadow Trust Board (STB) while an independent process is set up with the Council to recruit the proposed Carnegie Trust.   It will apply for an Asset Transfer, develop a Preferred Option and a Business Plan.   Architects will be appointed to prepare detailed architectural drawings and funding applications.   This project proposes a major refurbishment of the building, to ensure its future as a community asset for generations to come.

If the Friends decline to bid separately to fund the professional staff and space needed to run a community library then I will urge the Carnegie STB to do the job itself.   Herne Hill must close ranks; we will get one bite at this cherry and failure is not an option!

Carol Boucher
Chair, Carnegie Herne Hill Shadow Trust Board
Friend of Carnegie Library

The Herne Hill Society published an altered version of this article in the Summer 2015 issue of their Magazine.

A Future for Carnegie Library

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

  • Our Preferred Option is for a transfer of the building to the charitable Carnegie Community Trust CIO under Lambeth’s 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.   The Preferred Option document  has been added to our Project Documents page:  link
  • 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 charity 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 you will support our proposal.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

Community Hub Update

Pending the final outcome of Lambeth’s ‘2020’ consultation, the Shadow Trust Board has continued work on the creation of a new charitable Community Trust and on drafting an application to Lambeth for a Community Asset Transfer of the building to that Trust.   In these tasks we are supported by Lambeth Council and Community Matters.

We are in discussions with the Heritage Lottery Fund about a major grant, and also a smaller HLF grant to develop a Heritage Plan.   In addition, we are developing an Activities Plan and a Business Plan; these are required for most funding applications.   We are introducing new opportunities in the building alongside the interesting range of library activities.

We all await the Council’s Cabinet decision on Cultural Services 2020, now expected in September: http://love.lambeth.gov.uk/deciding-future-culture-2020/

However, since we know that the new government is warning of further 40% cuts to local authority budgets it is difficult to see how current culture provision can continue as is .
On the other hand, there is no change to Lambeth’s stated policy on Community Hubs.    Indeed, the Council recently signed up to the Department of Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) Community Ownership and Management of Assets (COMA) programme.   This re-states the Council’s commitment to its localism strategy.

The next meeting of the Shadow Trust Board will be held in the Autumn, after the Council announces its decision on cultural services.   Public notice of the meeting will be given.   We need to be ready for the once-only opportunity to make the Carnegie Library building a secure community asset, not a sold-off private sector asset.   Please come and join us.

To receive our updates by automatic email just enter your email address in the ‘Subscribe’ box on our home page: http://carnegiehernehill.org.uk/

Carnegie STB