Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Council Cabinet Member for Resources & Culture claims  loss = 0%

Haringey Council Leader claims  loss = 20% 


Liberal Democrat spokesman on Libraries (me)                   
estimate Overall
  loss = 50%

estimate re. Young Adults, Childrens'                   
Library and Childrens' Garden area, alone  
loss = 75%

Does the area of the current, safe enclosed Childrens Garden not represent an "activity" that would be lost? Under the plans, It would become the main entrance for the new Council Customer Service Centre and a North-South thoroughfare to and from the Leisure Centre.

The above graphic shows the proposed new back door or 'poor door'.

It'd likely be heavily trafficked and it's right alongside the proposed Childrens' Library. What remains of the current area for children, would hold rows of PCs plus a single bookcase (can you spot it?) and it's being passed off as a 'Childrens Library'.

  • The upper floor would house no books. One part would become a shrunken, cramped "quiet area", that is unlikely to be quiet, given the adjacent activities, that include a "Children's Play Area" of 16.1 square metres. You couldn't make it up!
  • The ground floor would be dominated by rows of PCs (there do appear to be a small number of bookcases, towering three shelves in height). Another quiet study area would be adjacent to two parking ticket vending machines (!?)

    One can imagine the scene: "Damn it Sharon, it's still not accepting my money". "Hurry up, there's people queuing Tracy. Hit it on the side again!" I made that up, but Haringey's plans are real.

Clive Carter
Liberal Democrat Spokesman on Libraries

Tags for Forum Posts: Labour Cabinet, Marcus Garvey Library, another fine mess, arrogance, folly, ignorance, illiterate, incompetence, mistake, muck up

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- You were curious about "councillor library experts". In May 2014 The Dear Leader awarded five new councillors the title of:
"Cabinet Advisors, meaning they will provide support and guidance for the executive in specialised areas."

"The five are: Liz McShane (cabinet advisor for high streets and local businesses), Adam Jogee (cabinet advisor for libraries), Eugene Akwasi-Ayisi (cabinet advisor for tenants and leaseholders), Natan Doron (cabinet advisor for carbon reduction) and Elin Weston (cabinet advisor for families)."

Source: Edgware Today June 2014. The quote appears to be from a Haringey Propaganda Unit bulletin. Churnalised in several other local "newspapers".

It might be enlightening to know what advice, support and guidance these specialised five provided to the "Cabinet". On the other hand . . .

If I understand you correctly Alan, you've listed in detail (and described at length) all the merits of the Council's proposals.

I couldn't agree more.

An Open Letter to Cllr Claire Kober and Cllr Jason Arthur

In the past few weeks I have visited Marcus Garvey Library three times. I took a large number of photos.

I emailed the links to the published plans to two friends who have a relevant professional background. One has worked and managed construction projects in a number of countries. The second - from the north - knows about library design. To be clear, neither of these friends live in Tottenham. Nor do they use Marcus Garvey library. In that sense these are comments from outsiders.

The first was amazed by the figure of £3 million for this "refurbishment".  They also queried the need to locate Customer Services staff from Apex House, by cramming them into the Library. Suggesting that it would make more sense to use a separate building and that if necessary the Council should consider renting, if it did not own suitable premises. They also thought that the plans were an "answer" to a "question" which has not been asked.

The second friend sent me detailed comments on the published plans - listed below.  Interestingly these professional points included a number of the criticisms which have been made by the library users. [NB. I have added a couple of explanatory comments in brackets and italics.]

  1. The published design for Marcus Garvey Library incorporates the Customer Services Centre. So it tries to co-locate two functions, But by doing so it will limit the effectiveness of the library function. 
  2. Any new library should be exciting. It should offer more than was available previously. This design simply crams in as many items as possible into a reduced space.
  3. The Council maintains that previously 35% of the space in Marcus Garvey Library was not used effectively. [My comment: this is disputed by the Friends' Group.]  The new design relocates the central staircase which is wasteful in terms of space.
  4. However the drawing does not show the impact of the proposed south door [My Comment: the revolving door through the garden]  for which a Planning Application has recently been submitted. The new door will effectively create a walkway through the ground  floor, providing a route through to the Leisure Centre, and dividing the library in two.
  5. The new entrance will also cut through the children's garden to the rear of the library. Presumably the garden will need to be closed on safeguarding grounds, as it would be difficult to guarantee the safety of children using the garden with this additional access route. The proximity of the new door to the children's library is also a concern on safeguarding grounds; presumably a full risk assessment has been undertaken?   [My Comment: Some of us will be writing formally to raise this extremely important issue. I do not know if such a full risk assessment has in fact been made. In my view it would need a clean-bill-of-health from Haringey's Local Children's Safeguarding Board.]
  6. In a library design, it is usual to separate quiet and noisy activities. The existing design of Marcus Garvey shown on the plans, has noisy activities such as the children's library on the ground floor, with quiet activities on the first floor. The proposed design muddles the two, locating the children's play area (inevitably a noisy area) on the 1st floor next to the quiet study area. While the quiet study area on the ground floor - including a 'quiet reading' area and 'quiet study' desks - are located by the public telephone and photocopiers. People walking through the library can hardly be expected to be quiet, so the location of the 'quiet study' areas on the ground floor is optimistic but not realistic.
  7. There is a considerable reduction in shelving and there will be a similar reduction in the level of book stock. This is particularly significant in relation to children's books as children require comparatively more stock to complement the stages of their reading development.
  8. There does not appear to be any staff provision within the children's library and so it would appear that the children are losing support from dedicated library staff as well as a considerable amount of stock.
  9. The designs provided are not designs for a new library. They are designs for a new Customer Services Centre with remnants of a library slotted in between machines for parking payments and banks of desks for customer advisers.
  10. In the Questions & Answers provided by the Council, there are a number of statements beginning with: Question -How much library space will be lost with the re-location of customer services?
    Council Answer -The overall floor space may be slightly reduced. However currently 35%  of the space available is underused so we will be making better use of the existing space. 
    Correct answer: The space allocated for library use will be significantly reduced.
  11. Question - Will there be reduced study spaces or facilities?
    Council Answer- No. The proposals are to increase the current study desks from 46 to between 60 and 80. The primary area for study facilities will remain on the 1st Floor
    Correct answer: The central design appears to show 61 study desks. In order to accommodate this quantity of study tables, the seats are all at long tables, with only one small table for 4 people on the ground floor. There is no break out space. This is hardly going to be pleasant study space. People do not only want to sit and study in a library; they also want to sit and relax, perhaps reading a book or a newspaper. There does not appear to be any relaxed seating in this library. All seats are expected to be for 'quiet reading' or 'quiet study'.
  12. Question - Will there be reduced People's Network facilities & PCs
    Council Answer  - No. The proposals are to increase the number of PCs.
    Correct answer. There are more PCs on the plan, but 12 PCs on the 1st Floor are allocated to Customer Services.
  13. Question - Will there be a reduction in books?
    Council Answer. There will be more shelves installed for books
    Correct Answer. The drawing of the existing site does not show details of the shelving in place now, but simply noted 'shelving'. It is clear from the quantity of shelving shown on the proposed design that there will be a reduction in shelving. And shelving means books. There really is no point in having a 2 person office for library staff to undertake 'book processing'. There simply won't be enough books to need a book processing office!
  14. The new library is apparently going to cost in the region of £3 million. It is so disappointing that the Council is spending so much money - and providing such a disappointing new library. The Council really should look at new libraries, perhaps the new central libraries in Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, or, in London, at Canada Water or Greenwich. And then they should ask in the specialists, who could design a library worthy of the residents of Tottenham - albeit within the smaller budget available.


It's not impossible that even you, Claire and Jason, may have second thoughts.  Although, like Wile E. Coyote running over the precipice in pursuit of the Road Runner, I expect you to continue with your misconceived plans. But I'm writing to give you an opportunity for an outbreak of last minute common sense.

I hear Jason, that you are now scrambling to sign a contract for this work. Even before there has been a proper public consultation and before the planning application has been agreed. Perhaps you should reread what the Supreme Court had to say about Haringey's "consultation" process.

I suggest you stop and think very hard and very carefully. And then tell senior officers to have a complete rethink. As a politician, Jason, you can't prevent people presenting you with poor plans and giving you bad advice. But the responsibility for taking and acting on it is yours. At the very least I would ask you to put this process on hold and review and rethink it.




Alan Stanton

Tottenham Hale resident. Ward councillor 1998-2014. Former Labour Party branch & constituency secretary.

If only councillors would interrogate issues like you do, there wouldn't be so many conflicts with residents.
If only they had the moral integrity and intellectual strength to do so! It seems that those who do challenge the bosses get sidelined or deselected.
There you go
We are getting regenrated after all. And we should all just shut up and be happy cause the budget cuts require all of this to happen in this way.
We love it, we love it, we want more, more, more.

For the record, JJ, in case you had me in mind, I wasn't deselected. I decided that sixteen years was enough. And in any case, that Claire Kober's incompetent right-wing mutual congratulation society had lost its charm.

Nor were Zena Brabazon and David Browne "deselected". That selection was vote-rigged.

Alan thanks for going to this trouble. It does seem there is a list of issues with the proposals. What is needed, still, is a genuine Public Consultation.

A Consultation that sets out the Council's plans fully and honestly and enables the public to understand the implications of what is proposed.

And possible alternatives to what is proposed (I have in mind the judgement of the UK Supreme Court against Haringey Council, for one of their flawed "consultations" that failed to set out alternatives rather than simply say, in effect,

This is what we're going to do: feel free comment on X, but we probably won't take any notice because we want to do X anyway.

We're likely to see more "engagement" with the community rather than Consultation. Whenever one suspects there should be a Consultation but instead, sees "engagement", the warning klaxon needs to sound loud and clear.

No idea where the readers are coming from, but the two earlier posts about MGL closure have now had 2600+ views.  So it's being read way beyond the circle of those directly affected, and the councillors responsible. Their reputations, and those of their silent supporters on the cabinet and wider council, are being scrutinised beyond Haringey. Cllrs Kober and Arthur, both rumoured to have ambitions beyond this borough, have a fantastic opportunity here to do some real politicking and find a better solution to this mess that has got steadily worse since the announcement of the sale of Apex House last July.

Jason Arthur has stated on Twitter that the Council isn't going to change its plans at the 11th hour. But we raised many of our concerns back in February and March, including a deputation to Cabinet in March.

I also note the difference between a children's library, with books, play space, tables used for activities such as regular crafts/messy play sessions and board games, and STAFF at a counter, who run activities and can keep an eye on the library and its users outside activity sessions, and welcome school groups who come in regularly, and computers, with bookcases (and book stock) used to separate the area from the rest of the ground floor, and a "children's play area".

Early this afternoon (Sunday 30 August) I copied my open letter to councillors in Haringey Labour Group.

So far, a few very prompt replies which say: "I am out of office/on holiday/back in mid-September. Plus one from Cllr Peray Ahmet which advised: "I will be out the country from the 3rd-17th August 2015 and will not be responding to emails".  Which is at least honest.

I WAS present, with others, at the closing at 4 PM today of Tottenham's main Library (2015, August 30).

I can provide a further update on the percentage loss of Library Space.

From tomorrow, the loss of space to the public has leapt to 100 per cent, for at least half a year and probably longer.

In and of itself, this is disgraceful.

They'll just say that there are plans for a brand new, hugh flying mediatheque on the site of the another threatened Tottenham library at Coombes Croft. You know the one next to the new 'public square' opposite where Spurs want, with the help of Haringey Council, to destroy the other heritage buildings on T High Rd!



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