Thursday, 8 January 2015

Cuts to Haringey Libraries including Marcus Garvey Library (with petition)

I've been spending a lot of time helping to fight library cuts and closures in other parts of the UK (and appearing on C4 news, giving interviews to RTTV et al, writing articles for the Guardian and Informed, giving evidence to the Sieghart Inquiry, etc etc) and have taken my eye off my own manor, Haringey.

And in that time it seems that Cllr Adam Jogee, the Cabinet Advisor on libraries, and his council colleagues have been making big statements about not closing libraries but at the same time proposing cutting budgets, staff and floorspace, naughty naughty!

Adam Jogee (@AJogee)
So @haringeycouncil committed to keeping each@haringeylibrary open (ALL NINE). Work to improve them has

In campaigning circles it's called 'hollowing out', keeping the lights on and doors open but salami slicing the budgets until all there is left is a shell of a service, the old smoke and mirrors trick!
5000-6000 library staff in the UK have already been culled since 2007/8 (900-1000 in London alone) and outreach/stock budgets/opening hours slashed.

12 redundancies, 15% of the Haringey Libraries workforce, are planned "Ah yes but some/all of them will be voluntary redundancies" I hear you say, let me tell you there's nothing voluntary about being ‘restructured’ and being manoeuvred into a position of early retirement, some are happy with this but many are not. It also means extra workload for the colleagues left behind but not to fear the council also plan to introduce more self-serve in order that library staff be “freed from standing behind counters”, god forbid we would want trained human beings rather than kiosks!!

On top of all this the council are selling Apex House which houses their advice/service centre and moving the services into Marcus Garvey Library meaning that valuable library floorspace will be lost, co-location as the town hall bods like to call it. It looks as if children and adult library users are going to lose out in this arrangement and that dedicated children's staff could be lost?

This ‘co-location’ process is happening up and the country, councils are desperately selling off their real estate and shoe-horning services together, they then try to dress it up by calling the new arrangements ‘hubs’ or ‘Devon Centres or ‘Libraryplus’ but really it’s just cuts with no, or very little, innovation or consultation.

“In effect they are trying to deliver their pledge not to close libraries by shrinking then reducing staffing and facilities and replacing these with other services displaced from buildings they have sold off”
Sean Fox, Haringey Unison Branch Secretary.

Oh and there’s also talk of redeveloping the Wood Green Central Library site and last year, on 21/6/14 to be precise, Cllrs got taken on a ‘regeneration tour’ taking in this site with talk of combining with “private ownerships to provide a significant redevelopment opportunity”, it's hard to say at this time what kind of library will emerge from this "significant redevelopment opportunity" but let's hope it's not another example of the price of everything and the value of nothing.

But anyway what can you/we do?

Well first of all join your local library if you haven't already done so and use it. Councillors are obsessed with footfall and issue figures so the more people who come in through the doors and borrow books etc then the harder it is for them to use non-usage as an excuse to cut and close, but it's no guarantee that they won't.

Sign this petition;
'Save Marcus Garvey Library in Tottenham from cuts and reorganisation'

Let Cllr Claire Kober, Leader of the Council, and Cllr Jason Arthur, Cabinet member for Resources and Culture, know that you oppose the cuts/reorganisation.

Respond to the council consultation, see;

And most importantly unite and fight.


  1. Marcus Garvey Library, the biggest in Tottenham in the east of the borough, is actually located inside Tottenham Green Sports Centre. There are lots of singing and messy play sessions at the moment, there are classes and meeting space for community groups. So lots of services that are already colocated in a way that users appreciate and enjoy will go so other things can be shoehorned in.

  2. Note too that Coombes Croft library is to be knocked down along with homes and shops for the Spurs fans walkway. In a tweet of 19th December 2014 Cllr Kober admitted it will be demolished, but said that a new 21st century library will be build 200 metres away. Claiming this means the library is 'hardly threatened'.

  3. I'm glad Adam that you got access the best libraries in your secondary and higher education, and the best from Haringey Youth Service. I'm sure these facilities, and the staff who worked there, helped you achieve your goals. Now you are a councillor, don't Haringey's young people and families deserve your full support in fighting for the same. If people saw you defending services and fighting tooth and nail to keep them, you will earn their respect.

  4. I've posted Haringey's plan for Marcus Garvey Library on my Flickr photoblog here.

    It's likely to be one in a series of revised versions; with the final plan having some changes. I tweeted it to both Cllr Jason Arthur and Cllr Claire Kober (the Dear Leader) and neither of them replied to say it is wrong. Or that the final version is significantly different.

    I find it disgraceful that Kober and her sycophants repeatedly insist that the changes proposed are positive. For example she claims in tweets that these "proposals will increase services on offer, invest in decor/design, provide almost the same space as now." (28 January 2015)

    Challenged on the same day by @SaveTottLibrary about the word "almost", Claire Kober tweeted that: " 'almost' because more services and re shaping of internal area may marginally reduce floor space". Challenged again, Kober claimed it was a "broader customer service offer".

    On 31 January I tweeted: "@ClaireKober If half your office was used for Housing Advice would you pretend you had the same space?" She gave no answer.

    Like much of what Cllr Claire Kober writes, these tweets are misleading, closed-minded and - it appears to me - stubborn. There is not a hint of a whisper of concern that she might perhaps be wrong or partly wrong. No suggestion that her critics may have a point or two. Or that what she proposes should usefully be probed and improved in dialogue with her critics in the *interests of service users* both of the libraries and of Apex House.

    Let's take her claim that these proposals will "increase the services on offer". It appears that, from the viewpoint of Haringey residents, the *same* range of services will be available. But crammed mainly into one building - Marcus Garvey Library, rather than in two buildings - Marcus Garvey Library and Apex House near Seven Sisters Station.

    To be fair, there's been criticism of the physical design and layout of the services at Apex House. But when I've gone there with a resident, it seemed that a central factor making it stressful for both staff and residents were the kinds of problems people brought.

    As I'm no longer a councillor, I'm out of date on this. But when I've been there, the nature of the work meant it was not a relaxed, pleasant, positive place to be. Staff met individuals and families sometimes under stress, and they were often having to say 'No' to people.

    It was what I call a "hard door". Whereas our libraries *are* pleasant places to go. And very much a "soft door".

    I'm not saying it's impossible to co-locate such functions close together on two floors in the same building. Only that I would be wary. Do you know of examples of an area like Tottenham with this type of co-location? Are there some reports on its success - or otherwise you could point me to?

    Alan Stanton
    Labour councillor 1998 - May 2004.
    Former Constituency and branch secretary in Tottenham Labour Party.