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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

31% Cuts to Haringey's Library Services in the Pipeline - Call to Action!

A message from Friends of Stroud Green And Harringay Library.

Please find time this festive season to respond and defend our library service

If you're not a member of the library, how about a new year's resolution to join your nearest branch? 

Dear Friends,

We wish we could be sending you tidings of good cheer at this time of year but your library is being targeted for cuts. Friends Of Reading & Education (FORE) is the umbrella group of all the library friends groups in Haringey.

We discovered at a meeting on Dec 11 with Councillor Emily Arkell and council officers that in order to make savings to balance the budget, the council is planning to make 31% cuts to library services in two stages, over three years.

The library budget is currently down to £4.2M.

For the financial year 2024-2025, and to make a saving of over 16% (£705K), the council are planning to:

  • end provision of hard copy magazines and newspapers, £30K
  • reduce the opening hours of the branch libraries, £675K

In the second stage, for the financial years starting in 2025/2026 & 2026/2027 more cuts of another 15% (£676K). These future cuts will be baked-in to this year's budget. The rapid consultation closes Jan 15, 2024 .

The Council are planning to change the way our libraries are currently used by making them self-service libraries with reduced standards of operation:

  • users will have to swipe in
  • they will be using volunteers instead of professional librarians
  • premises will be monitored by CCTV
  • toilets will not be available in libraries without staff
  • other organisations will be making use of the library spaces

The service that residents get now with £4.2M funding would be cut to the bone with a meagre £2.86M.

Library staff are essential to the quality of the library user experience and staff time is being slashed.

The council needs to act legally and balance its budget if it is to maintain control of its services. FORE is sympathetic to the fact that the council is in a bind. It is faced with government cuts, inflation, high demand for services, and cost-of-living support. The Council is not proposing to close any of the libraries.

However, FORE have taken the decision to continue working with the council as a critical friend and to oppose the planned changes because we consider that they are ill thought out and a false economy.

We feel strongly that these changes will hollow out the place of this library in our community and lead to terminal decline. It will discourage members of the community, such as the elderly, those with disabilities, or with young children from accessing library services safely and conveniently.

We understand that this is not the sort of news you wish to hear at this time of the year but we hope that as residents you will also support FORE in our opposition to these changes.

Please contact your local ward councillors to let them know your opposition to these changes.

Stroud Green Ward Councillors:

e. Alexandra.Worrell@haringey.gov.uk

e. George.Dunstall@haringey.gov.uk

e. Eldridge.Culverwell@haringey.gov.uk

Harringay Councillors

e. Anna.Abela@haringey.gov.uk

e. gina.adamou@haringey.gov.uk

e. zena.brabazon@haringey.gov.uk

Cabinet Member for Culture, Communities & Leisure:

e. Emily.Arkell@haringey.gov.uk

You can also comment on the Council's Budget proposals via:

https://haringeybudget2024.commonplace.is/en-GB/

Tags for Forum Posts: Library", and, green, haringey libraries, harringay, libraries, libraries", stroud green and harringay library

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for highlighting this Liz

 It's so sad that the council felt they have to do this. The proposed introduction of self-service technologies looks particularly bad, alongside a 40% reduction in staff. You make the point about toilets in passing, but they're a vital piece of community infrastructure, without which a lot of people's movement would be much restricted.

The council website consultation asks for both where money can be saved and where more money should be spent. I'm not informed enough to know whether investing £950k in new ICT in libraries at the same time as cutting services and staff is money well spent; although ideally the council would take the money from elsewhere - like the £15m roads budget. 

Libraries are an amazing resource, and from personal experience much used by parents from all backgrounds, especially in the mornings when they're proposing to cut opening hours.

Here's hoping it doesn't come to pass.

Thanks for highlighting this - very sad. Haringey has been wonderful in keeping its libraries open - Islingtons shut all over the place. Since libraries are warm spaces can that be used as a plea?

To all those that felt it was worthwhile spending council money on stupidity such as the renaming of Black Boy Lane, the painting of crossings in multicolour stripes and other vanity projects that the council have been throwing money at. We reap what they sow! 

IN our library, Stroud Green and Harringay, they pointlessly spent money on some horrible new lights, painted the bookcases grey and put in a vile new checking in box with a huge camera as you walk in. It is a beautiful Victorian library and sort of ruined the vibe and made it more corporate. They also put a lift to great expense, which was broken the last time I went in (i pop in most weeks as the staff are great and I borrow books all the time) and the rooms upstairs are not even being advertised for rent. The person who oversaw this makeover left - they didn't ask residents or children to have a say in how they wanted the library to look. All this money could have been better spent on keeping the nice staff on. I dread the plans coming and saw that these changes meant they're going to reduce staff and services and make it into some kind of hideous business hub. They have tried to close it before. WE must fight this.

I understand there was a FORE meeting on 6th Jan. Can anybody summarise here, were any actions proposed etc.? Is there a website for FORE? I'm keen to get involved but not sure how. I'm a librarian (not in Haringey) and West Green resident. 

Katie

I have heard Haringey pays its senior managers and officers more than other councils, does anyone know if this is the case? Might be worth doing an FOI to find out and see, then maybe our libraries would not suffer so much, Gio

The Council has also recently appointed two Assistant Directors for Culture and Creativity as part of its bid for Haringey to become London's Borough of Culture in 2027 (Haringey "Rebel Borough" :https://www.haringey.gov.uk/news/haringey-sets-out-stall-be-crowned...)

How much are these two costing?  It's a bit ironic that the Council is promoting the borough as a cultural centre whilst at the same time cutting back library provision.

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