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 readhere.
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 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 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.’
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.
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
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org giving details of where you would like to distribute and we will be in touch. Thank you.
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.
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
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As mentioned in our last post the Council is now advertising their exhibition, at which Greenwich Leisure Ltd will be represented, of their proposals for the Carnegie building. You may have received their flyer. If not, you can see it here.
Carnegie Community Trust CIO
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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
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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 (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.