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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Councillor Jason Arthur confirms a further delay to the re-opening of Marcus Garvey Library

In a post on Twitter (Sunday 2nd May 2016) Councillor Jason Arthur has confirmed that there will be a further delay to the re-opening of Marcus Garvey Library, in Tottenham,

According to Cllr Arthur, the Haringey Council cabinet member with responsibility for libraries, the 'structural work will be finished in May and building handed back to the council. Then 3-4 weeks of set up, So June opening'.

The library has been closed since August 2015 and at that time the council claimed it would re-open in February 2016, But earlier this year, the Cllr Arthur admitted the works were delayed and promised to have the library open in May.

Tags for Forum Posts: haringey council, jason arthur, marcus garvey library

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the council claimed it would re-open in February 2016

I was at the Cabinet Member Signing (for the works) when I pressed the Council on this.

Finished in February? I said.

"End of Feburary" was the response. The Chair of the Friends of Marcus Garvey Library, Jasmin Taylor, was also present and heard that answer too.

Tottenham's main library will have been closed for 10 months. Not because there was anything wrong with it, but because the Council chose to convert much of the building into a "Customer Service Centre".

CDC
Haringey Councillor
Liberal Democrat Party
(library spokesman)

On the website it says they found a problem with the ceiling during the work. Is that not the case?

So were they incompetent, or just lying?

Or it could be that when you start pulling things apart you find new problems. Happens ever time I have work done at home

Of course you're right, Michael, that until you start work under a floor, above a ceiling, or even behind the wallpaper, you don't know exactly what you'll find. 
But Haringey's track record of delivering building programmes on time and on budget isn't exactly shining.

As I recall, with Marcus Garvey Library, from near the start of this project, the view of staff on the ground (literally) was that the projected date was way over-ambitious and highly unlikely to be achieved.
So let's be charitable and assume that perhaps Cllr Jason Arthur wasn't aware of Haringey's track record.  Or maybe he wasn't told about the unrealities of the announced timetable.  Or less charitably, perhaps he was told and preferred to believe - or at least hope - that the time 'slippage' could somehow be made up.

Whatever the truth, the fundamental problem, Michael, is a lack of trust. And I'm not talking about trust from someone like me who has seen and heard what goes on. I mean by local people who start off by assuming that what councillors and Council staff say, was said in good faith. But who have since formed their own more sceptical judgement.

I think that you're probably right in your analysis Alan. If it had been me in charge of the work there (which thankfully for all concerned I wasn't) I would have wanted to have users involved in the project right the way through from conception of the design and monitoring of progress to delivery.

Haven't the Council heard of contingency allowance ?

Pam I don't believe anyone was lying.

An owner normally wants the job finished sooner and contractors are often optimistic.

A completion date could only be an estimate. However, anyone who has contracted building-related work know that such projects frequently—if not normally—take longer than the builder or contractor estimates. Sometimes, much longer. This should be expected.

But here, we are talking about a much-used public library on which the community depends. I'm told that at this time of the year it would be greatly used by students, studying.

The original decision to force council customer service into the library—knowing the disruption it would cause—is where questions of competency arise.

Thanks to the change of use of approximately half the building, disruption to normal library use will not end when the building re-opens.

I fear that Council Customers Services will in many ways come to dominate a building that formerly was dedicated to the Library Service.

Addendum: any building project requires careful calculation and consideration at the outset. The 1996 letter (about cost overruns at Alexandra Palace) from the Treasury Solicitor to the then Haringey Council CEO contains useful comment. Note #6:

I used to live nearby and visit the library frequently with my child. It was a warm and welcoming place, and a social hub for a huge number of mums, specially from communities who don't usually attend cafes.  From my point of view it played a crucial social role for mums and children, in creating relationships across communities, exposing children and parents to cultural, social and educational resources, together, as a family.   I just hope that the 1 year closure and investment of 3 million pounds will expand that important role for the community and not turn it into a cold place, where people who are already limited in the social places they can conformable enjoy will not feel it is not "for them".

 

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