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-...
Email: email@example.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.
I can't for the life of me find a listing of the various committees, beyond one page that's called Committee Structure . Nothing of who is on what, beyond the chairs of 'cabinet' posts. Can't find a committee that reflects Cllr Arthur's job title. And I counted wrong, there are now nine on the 'cabinet', two new posts were added in 2014, perhaps to accommodate the ambitions talents of some of the newly elected councillors.
A few years ago when the Lab/Lib councillors in Haringey were about 55% 45% across the borough I asked a Liberal member about that party's representation on CPZ issues at council meetings. I was told that because Labour held the majority vote (55%) they had the total monopoly on who attends, needless to say that only Labour councillors would attend the meetings, I don't know if this ruling has changed since but it may be why projects and policies can be 'bulldozed' through with little or no opposition.
That was the day I lost faith in local (apparent) democracy.
By law, Martin, the membership of council committees is proportional to the political parties. Allocation of individual councillors to committees is a matter for the respective parties.
As well as the councillors who are members of a particular committee - who have the right to attend, speak and vote - when I was on the Council any councillor could attend any meeting. Though they had no voting rights, the chair would normally let them speak. (This didn't apply in the same way to Planning & Licensing for legal reasons.)
So whoever told you that Labour had a "total monopoly" over who could attend a particular meeting was misinformed. Unless perhaps they were referring to members of the so-called "cabinet". But even then the LibDem leaders and other councillors would attend and speak.
It's true that there is a closed meeting of the cabinet where decisions are in effect made. But the process for creating new Controlled Parking Zones was not - in my experience anyway - "bulldozed through" and not at such meetings.
I would guess that people who might feel bulldozed are those who objected and are in a minority. Or sometimes those who ignore or don't understand the significance of the consultation phase and are pissed-off when parking signs start appearing in their street.
(Labour councillor 1998-2014)
If the council fails in its duty to put things out to tender or to consult on a matter that it should can it be taken to the Local Goverment Ombudsman? I think they have the power to force councils to reverse decisions if they were against the rules.
You can read here in the minutes of the 'cabinet' from July 2014, the process by which it was decided that it was perfectly legal to sell Grainger the Apex site without the need to put it to tender. See paragraph 684. The actual sum (£3.4million) and reasons for it was discussed in the secret meeting referred to in that text.
Rightmove lists some very nice houses in Muswell Hill for almost exactly that figure, as of tonight. That's without the 152 dwellings built in the back yard, of course.
I heard a figure of £3.8 million, Pam. However, it seems to me that one key issue is the value of the development on the Apex House site which Grainger will realise when it's sold as flats - oops, sorry, "apartments" - in John McAslan + Partners (JMP) tower block next to the station. (I know you get this, but perhaps it won't be obvious to other people trying to make sense of Haringey's latest cock-up.)
This is why, when Martin Ball and I went to the "information" session on 28 March I asked Cllr Jason Arthur about the "overage" clause in the sale. In other words, if rising prices gave Grainger an even greater profit, would Haringey benefit? or would Grainger pocket the extra dosh? At the 28 March meeting Jason Arthur promised to let me have this information.
The answer I now have from Jason (three-and-a-half-months late and with a couple of tweeted reminders) is still unclear. He refers me to a council report which appears to confirm that there is an overage agreement, but suggests that Grainger are asking for it to be made more generous to them.
The details are of course in a secret second report covered by commercial confidentality. Entirely understandable of course. Apex House is (or was) public land with a building providing vital public services. And the deal involves large sums of public money. So why on earth should mere members of the public be allowed to know what's going on?
As you live nearby, Pam, I expect the stink of a Council in terminal decay has already reached your windows.
P.S. I gather that Jason Arthur is now claiming that the information session - quaintly renamed "engagement" - was actually part of the "consultation". I suspect this shameless rewriting of history means they've realised they may have broken the law again by ignoring the Supreme Court Guidance on consultation.
Apex House is (or was) public land with a building providing vital public services.
If I remember correctly, Cllr. Reg Rice several weeks ago said at a Planning Committee meeting that he, as the Mayor of Haringey, presided at the opening ceremony of Apex House. It will have had a relatively short life compared with some buildings.
There are other Council buildings that were erected in recent times that are now being considered for demolition.
And is it true that homes in Tottenham that have recently benefitted from Decent Homes improvement spending, may be demolished, due to Council decisions?
Why can't the Council put more care and thought into new building, using public money?
"And is it true that homes in Tottenham that have recently benefited from Decent Homes improvement spending, may be demolished, due to Council decisions?"
I strongly suspect, Clive, that you already know the answer to that is 'yes'. And as well as the Labour Government's money for Decent Homes there was another private source of cash for improvements which may feel the force of the wrecking ball. I'm thinking of all the leaseholders who were billed for 'Decent Homes" work - which the Council as landlord - is required to do.
As the LibDem group on the Council has a paid political assistant why not set that person the task of requesting an up-to-date list of all Council properties which were improved with Decent Homes funds and how much was spent. Then to match it against the proposed sales / demolition plans of the vandals in the Labour KoberTory cabinet.