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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

A spokesman from LBH was quoted tonight on a short BBC News report on the imminent closure of Marcus Garvey Library in Tottenham: 

"Haringey Council Statement: We're very disappointed that a £3million investment to revamp and modernise one of our most popular libraries has been misrepresented. The refurbishment of the library will see it enhanced with new books and equipment, as well as additional services."

You can watch the bulletin on youtube, here: [ MGL on the news]

This is the library that is being halved in size as they cram in most of the Customer Services from Apex House.  Most of the books are being sold off or binned, including the much respected Black Triangle collection on Black history. The Young Adult section will be scrapped. The little children's garden will be trampled into nothing. It will be closed for at least six months, and their 'alternative provision'? a list of other libraries. The computer access, often so busy it has to be shared, will just not be there for the thousands of regular users. There was no consultation. 

There is no way this work ('revamp and modernise') would be happening if the council had not sold the Apex House site to developer Grainger for £3.4million, necessitating its demolition. They obviously did not think through where to put the services, they were hoping it could all go online. There was some stumbling about last summer till they settled on MGL. The original plans claimed it would take 20% of 'wasted space' (ie the exhibition area) in the library, now it's a whole floor.   That £3.4million (which did not go to tender, for near half a hectare of land next to the best tube line in London) does not cover the cost of 'revamping' MGL and the Wood Green Library which is also absorbing some overspill, £3million and £2million respectively.

Oh and the librarians are having to apply for their own jobs, being redefined as 'information providers'. 

If LBH would just be more honest it would help a tiny bit.  But to throw it back at us is a heap of nonsense, even by the LBH spin department's notorious standards.  Such a ridiculous smear makes them look worse. Cllr Arthur is on holiday, so can we get a name, Mx Spokesperson? 

Support the Campaign to stop these proposals here:
Sign the Petition here: https://www.change.org/p/tell-haringey-council-to-save-tottenham-s-...
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1527639460848841/?fref=nf
Twitter: #SaveMarcusGarveyLibrary
Email:  friendsofmgl@gmail.com  (NOTE corrected email on 17.8.15)

and to see some of the removed books, check the tumblr page: http://friendsofmgl.tumblr.com/


[Edit - xref to a later post about the leap from the proposals nodded through cabinet in March, to the reality being enacted now.]


Planning documents here, for changing the back door. Thassall.

Tags for Forum Posts: apex house, cuts, library, marcus garvey, smear, spin

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Children's play area for those waiting to be interviewed re their housing need? Why else would they be on the first floor?

The ground floor doesn't show the longed-for Street, a design feature, that will run from the new spinning door to the original front door.  It will be very handy as a short cut for those heading for the gm and pools.

Note that none of this is referred to in the planning document, that's only about changing the garden door from hinged to spinning. 

Taking all the design features together, this is a frightful muck up. Who is responsible for this?

The library would be so compromised, that it barely deserves that title. At least it would be better match the existing external signage, where the sign "Library" is decidedly secondary to the leisure centre.

Someone at the Council hasn't been paying attention. This is what you wind up with when plans are fomented solely inside the Council bubble, without the benefit of extra pairs of eyes, especially from those who would actually use them.

The subtext is: libraries are no longer important and we can get away with it because residents in Tottenham don't care.

Today on Twitter, the Haringey Council Cabinet Member for Resources & Culture claimed that " … [there will be] no reduction in children's library space/activities".

However, the proposed new – and likely very busy – entrance, would cut right through the current safe, enclosed Childrens' Garden and effectively, replace it:

That would be only part of the drawbacks for users of the Childrens' Library.

Inside, that part of the Library would be slashed in half in size. Overall, the library would also be reduced in size by approximately 50%.

The busy thoroughfare to the Council's big Customer Service Centre (upstairs) would be right alongside the Childrens' Library, posing safeguarding issues.

The plans for the shrunken Childrens' Library appears to have a single bookcase at one side (the short side) that is possibly just three shelves high.

The areas (upstairs and down) that are marked "quiet" on architects' plans are unlikely to be quiet in reality.

The current scheme is at best, half-baked. It reflects the fact that the Council failed to perform a Public Consultation. If they'd listened to residents outside the bubble, they might have learned a few things.

They only own the land up to the fence.  It didn't occur to them that they can't just build a new entranceway without clearing, and probably paying for, permission from the owner of the car park. Oops. 

Also a very narrow definition of childhood.  The Young Adult section is being deleted. And sticking a 'childrens play area' on the first floor, in among the queues for Customer Services, seems a little odd, that's no longer a library function.

Exactly, Clive. It's no accident that the campaign started with a few angry mums getting together online, because of our concerns about the children's library space (which had its own counter and regular staff working there) and then gradually lots of other people joined us.

The whole scheme has serious flaws. But the Koberites have painted themselves into a corner by the sale of Apex House and the resulting severely constrained timetable. As a result they are driving this through before a proper public consultation is carried out. And regardless of objections - however reasonable.

And it seems, without making any effort to look for possible alternatives to rehouse the Customer Services staff.

Until now I've felt sorry for Cllr Jason Arthur who seems to have uncritically swallowed this whole fantasy. He has apparently accepted the fiction of improvement put out by Claire Kober and the Council's propaganda machine. Who use the terms "refurbishment" and "makeover", instead of giving a factual, balanced and objective account of what's happening.

Because, I've mentioned before, local authority publicity staff are subject to a legal Code of Practice. It's worth taking a look at this document, as it's very helpful. And not simply as a formal technical Code, but because, if followed, it can make a valuable contribution to sensible and open public discussion and debate - especially on contentious issues. (This link downloads a pdf file.)

Among other things, it places a legal requirement on local authorities publicity teams to be "objective" and "even-handed". The information they put out is required to be "balanced and factually accurate".

Paragraph 15. "Local authorities should ensure that publicity relating to policies and proposals from central government is balanced and factually accurate. Such publicity may set out the local authority’s views and reasons for holding those views, but should avoid anything likely to be perceived by readers as constituting a political statement, or being a commentary on contentious areas of public policy."

Paragraph 16. "Any publicity describing the council’s policies and aims should be as objective as possible, concentrating on the facts or explanation or both. Local authorities should not use public funds to mount publicity campaigns whose primary purpose is to persuade the public to hold a particular view on a question of policy. It is acceptable for local authority publicity to correct erroneous material which has been published by other parties, despite the fact that the material being corrected may have been published with the intention of influencing the public’s opinions about the policies of the authority. Such publicity should seek to explain the facts in an objective manner."

Can Haringey publicity staff make the change to the ethics of truth, accuracy, and balance? To "live within the truth as Václav Havel writes? Like his famous greengrocer example, might they one day "snap" and stop putting out slogans and misleading soundbites to ingratiate themselves with the Council leadership? Will they even find the strength in themselves to express solidarity with those who are objecting?  Havel describes this as: "stepping out of living within the lie". To "reject the ritual and break the rules of the game". To rediscover their own "suppressed identity and dignity".

Thanks for posting the aerial photo, Clive.  An extremely good idea as it shows more clearly what these ignorant and insensitive vandals are proposing to damage - if not destroy.

The aerial view also shows something which I hadn't properly appreciated before I walked round with Jasmin Taylor, Chair of the Friends Group. It's that there is a real risk that making the library entrance at the rear of the building harms the library not just as part of the main building, but within the complex of buildings around it.  Some people at least - it could well be many - may feel that access routes at the rear are currently unsafe. This may apply particularly to women and to older and less mobile people. I imagine the same may apply to children who are old enough to visit the library on their own.

A couple of women library users have confirmed these worries. I'd welcome the opinion of other members of HoL. Better still, make your views known to the - so far impervious to reason - Cllrs Jason Arthur and Claire Kober.

HoL readers new to the discussion may also be interested to know how this garden came about.

For several years Tottenham councillors for the Tottenham Green and other nearby wards used a small room at the rear of Marcus Garvey Library for our advice "surgeries". The windows overlook the strip of land which became the children's garden.  It was full of weeds, litter and bits of rubbish. 

Cllr Bernice Vanier and I had the idea that it would make a small secluded garden. It turned out that library staff had the same thought. But the problem was finding money. A photo in December 2010 showed the progress made by a team from the Future Jobs Fund (FJF) - offering young people temporary employment. They made a start, but progress was slow as they hit buried rubble. Then the FJF was cut.

But eventually the work was complete.

I posted several photos showing the 'story' on my Flickr photoblog here.  If you're interested you can read more here.

A very committed volunteer who has joined our group has spent a lot of her own time and energy on maintaining the Library garden and trying to make it even better. It makes me so sad that her efforts and others are just being ignored like this.

Hi Luci!

Don't be sad and don't be ignored. Mr Marley may have the answer.

You're not alone. Come along tomorrow Saturday and be heard

I have an important family commitment in Stoke Newington tomorrow, so can't make it to the library meeting/rally but the campaign will continue. I think the Council has really underestimated how we feel about Tottenham's main library.

They didn't know how it was used, either.  Bit of a trek from Muswell Hill, doncha know.

They have no problem getting themselves to a yacht in Cannes to sell off the borough to a bunch of property speculators.



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