All posts by Phil Isaac

A Rebuttal

For many months Carnegie Community Trust, and individual Trustees, have been subject to a very unpleasant campaign of false allegations and deliberate misunderstanding by the committee of the Friends of Carnegie Library, at times personal, and always undermining our hard work over four years.   We do not believe that most Friends, if asked, would condone this behaviour.   However they are not asked, and the lies and distortions continue in the Friends’ latest (May) Bulletin.

Our Rebuttal of the lies and misinformation can be found here
More positively, we believe there are now grounds for optimism about the future for Carnegie as a community building.  The Council has announced there will be an exhibition of plans shortly, look out for the date.   We will post it as soon as we know.   And we will shortly issue a Newsletter, look out for that too.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

Newsletter Summer 2016

Our latest newsletter can be found here.   This sets out the Trust’s current position in light of the imminent Council exhibition on its plans for the Carnegie, see Council flyer here.

Volunteers needed  This newsletter will be widely distributed in Herne Hill over the next few weeks.  If you can help with this please contact getinvolved@carnegiehernehill.org.uk giving details of where you would like to distribute and we will be in touch.  Thank you.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

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 (CCT) 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.  Following that consultation 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
We believe that neither preserving the status quo at Carnegie nor converting it to a gym are realistic options.   Instead the way ahead for Carnegie is for:

  • a Community Trust to take ownership of the building, to be a community-owned and operated Community Hub
  • the building to include an Enterprise Library
  • the Community Trust to work with whichever agency is chosen to operate the library in the building.   If no-one else will do it, then the Community Trust will aim to operate a staffed library to offer the same services as before

CCT was not consulted on, nor had advance notice about, Lambeth’s proposal to transfer the building to Greenwich Leisure Ltd, and has not since been in discussion with either of them about this.   We do not believe it makes sense to close the library on  31st March, to close the building for capital works (changing rooms, showers etc.) and to re-open it as a private gym with a tiny ‘library’ in it.   We have stated our opposition to that course of action.

CCT plans to recruit a fully representative Board of Trustees, supported by a membership organisation, to own and operate the building.   The aim is to take ownership of the Carnegie building as soon as possible this year and maintain it for existing and new activities.

The 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 or work within a 15-20 minute walk and, indeed, beyond.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

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

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.   The Council’s latest update is here.   Although provision for an unstaffed library is proposed, 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 that is 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 which would enable the Trust to acquire the building, and having been advised by Lambeth to continue this process to completion, we are investigating the implications and options in light of Lambeth’s 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, to transfer the building into community ownership through the Carnegie Community Trust.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

New Trustees Required – closing date 31st July 2016

Carnegie Community Trust (CCT) is looking for new trustees. Could you help this local charity work to achieve a Community Asset Transfer of Carnegie Library into community ownership, to regenerate and safeguard our landmark civic building, and reopen it under community management?

Community Asset Transfer is a process by which a local authority can transfer ownership of a building, usually via a lease, to a legally constituted organisation with appropriate charitable or social objectives, working for the benefit of the community.   CCT has made a formal application for Community Asset Transfer of the Carnegie building and we will be submitting our Business Case in September to enable the Council to make a final decision. The vision remains the same as in 2011, namely in a modern context to combine lifelong learning with both enterprise and social activities in a flourishing Community Hub for everyone in Herne Hill.

CCT is now moving forward from the start-up stage of testing project viability towards the challenge of running a large multi-purpose community building. Trustees are now needed who can help take Carnegie to this next stage. Continue reading New Trustees Required – closing date 31st July 2016

Carnegie – where are we now?

Since the closure of the Library on 31 March CCT 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 CCT’s 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 and GLL, who conducted their own technical assessment, 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 the future of this wonderful building and the flourishing of our community.  The Trust will make applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund and other funding bodies for 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 getinvolved@carnegiehernehill.org.uk 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.

Carnegie Community Trust CIO

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 focused plan for the whole building, including a continuing library, working with the Council and, if relevant, Greenwich Leisure, as necessary.

The presentation slides have been added to our Project Documents page.

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 the former members of the project group.   We plan 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.

First Meeting of the Carnegie Shadow Trust Board

The first meeting of the Carnegie Shadow Trust Board will be held on Thursday 5th February from 18.00 to 19.45 at Carnegie Library.

The business of the meeting will cover co-option of members, a report on the Project to date, an update on the public consultation, a financial report, and discussion of future governance options.    Attendance as observers at meetings of the Shadow Board shall be open to representatives of local organisations, property interests and businesses, and also to local individuals provided that each observer has a commitment to the furtherance of the objectives stated in Shadow Trust Memorandum of Understanding.

Such persons attending may speak at the discretion of the Chair but will not have a vote.   This right of attendance shall not apply when items previously marked as confidential are to be discussed.   If you would like to attend the meeting, email: getinvolved@carnegiehernehill.org.uk

Or telephone Fred Taggart (Hon. Secretary)  07796 612824

Carnegie STB

Culture 2020 Cabinet Report – Update from Carnegie Community Trust CIO

  • Lambeth Council Cabinet re-affirms commitment to transfer the Carnegie building to a community trust

  • Carnegie Community Trust now registered with the Charity Commission

  • Expression of Interest in Asset Transfer submitted to Lambeth Council by the Carnegie Community Trust

We were surprised and disappointed by Lambeth Council’s new proposal to grant Greenwich Leisure a long lease of the Carnegie and to install a gym.  Whilst we appreciate the Council’s need to cut the costs of running the Carnegie, we do not believe that these plans reflect the outcome of the public consultation we ran or the broader interests and needs of the community.

Given the Council’s previous, public support of our work, we immediately sought clarification on the Council’s position.  We are pleased that they have re-affirmed and clarified their support by amending the Cabinet report to instruct Greenwich Leisure to work in partnership with the Carnegie Community Trust towards a transfer of ownership of the Carnegie to the community.  We are satisfied that it is the Council’s intention to transfer the Carnegie into local ownership, and look forward to their continued support for this.

The Trust remains concerned that Greenwich Leisure will occupy the building ahead of the community asset transfer, and urges the Council to agree terms of occupation that are appropriate in the current circumstances.  We are against the Council proposal to spend a significant amount of taxpayer money to make the building fit for purpose as a gym, and would like the Council to reconsider this as it plans the partnership with Greenwich Leisure. 

Carnegie Community Trust has been independently established by local residents to protect the future of the Carnegie Library as a community hub, incorporating an Enterprise Library.   The vision is of a building run by the community, for the community.   We are moving towards a model of ownership that will see the building owned by a charitable community trust and run by a board of local, volunteer Trustees.  

We will be recruiting for Trustees to represent the community, as well as volunteers to help run the wide range of activities that can now take place in the building.  We would be delighted to hear from residents who wish to be a part of this exciting project.

We are very grateful for the support that we have received from Community Matters, Carnegie UK Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund.   We look forward to working together with Lambeth Council, Greenwich Leisure and the Friends of Carnegie Library to secure the future of this precious community asset for everyone in Herne Hill.

Extract from Lambeth Cabinet Minutes for 12 October 2015:

“RESOLVED:

That Councillor Jim Dickson’s amendment set out below be agreed:

  • That GLL will be instructed to work in partnership with local people and the shadow trust board to develop community hub and library;
  • That the final decision of mix of uses of the building will be taken in full consultation with the shadow trust board;
  • That the council will consider introducing an earlier break clause than the 7 years proposed in the report to be invoked when the trust board are ready for the Carnegie building to be transferred to the trust;
  • That any time required for the closure of the library for improvements / changes to the building will be kept to a minimum. ”

Carnegie Community Trust CIO