It’s been a while since we posted on the campaign, so here’s a quick recap and update: Back in July ’17, Cllr Khan made a statement committing to Higham Hill Library remaining where it is… More
The Council have, at last, made a statement about the Library Locals consultation and the future of our local libraries. The full statement is here: www.walthamforest.gov.uk/content/statement-higham-hill-wood-street-and-lea-bridge-libraries
“Originally the council intended to take recommendations to Cabinet for decision in early summer 2017. However, this has been delayed until October 10 so that Cllr Ahsan Khan, who became the new Cabinet member only two months ago, has time to review the consultation responses.”
Councillor Ahsan Khan holds the (new?) portfolio for Libraries, Arts and Culture which covers libraries, the Borough of Culture bid and promoting and building links with arts organisations. It is encouraging that he is taking time to get up to speed with the issues around our libraries and that part of his remit is to build links with the arts – which libraries can play a crucial part in.
Councillor Ahsan Khan said:
“It is my intention to look more closely at the consultation results before making recommendations on Wood Street and Lea Bridge libraries to Cabinet. I can say that my position is that Higham Hill library will not be moved and this will be set out in the report due to be presented to Cabinet in October.”
This is positive for Higham Hill Library. It’s promising that the community value of the library building and location, as well as the library service, has been recognised. Here’s hoping that this same approach will be extended to Wood Street Library, and we look forward to seeing the full report on the consultation, Councillor Khan’s recommendations and the subsequent Cabinet decision in October.
We had a fabulous time at Higham Hill Library during the E17 Art Trail earlier this month. The Saturday making events were busy and fun and the library looked wonderful with a mural of curious sea creatures building each week, an ever growing reef of coral (if only that were true on the real reefs), displays of origami, book selections, fact sheets and quizzes, and lots of sticking and pasting and cutting and colouring. We even found an amazing sunken wreck and a deep sea diver! You can see loads of pictures here on Facebook. We also had another visit from Yellow Man in his diving kit!
It was great to see the library so vibrant and busy, and judging by the turn out – this type of thing is welcome, popular and needed in our corner of E17. The library staff were, as ever, brilliant – skilled in so many ways (all the lovely creative make ideas came from them). They juggle the demands of small and enthusiastic toddlers with a glue stick, student research queries, the challenges of technology (from photocopying glitches to how to use digital photo-sharing apps) and diverse local library users of every type, age and need, with kindness, intelligence, care and good humour. The staff at HH Library regularly run this type of event (at Christmas, Easter, Chinese New Year so in 2017!), but with a bit of a boost from us and a willingness to muck in, we can support the library and get involved. Shockingly Higham Hill was possibly the only Library in the borough to take part in the Art Trail this Year.
Once again it is so abundantly clear that the library is more than a “service” – it is a crucial place and a space for people to come together, or sit apart, to read and meet and think and learn. All without needing to get your money out (late return fines aside!) So many people commented on what a great space we have in our library and that with a little help it could be even better.
There is still no real news on the Council decision about our Library’s future. We are hoping for a statement of some kind soon and the decision date is currently scheduled for the Council Cabinet meeting on 5th September. So, for now keep using the library, make friends with the lovely library staff, and keep telling your council representatives why we want to keep Higham Hill Library where it is and why!
Tiny local hero, Yellow Man, star of Yellow Man – A Walthamstory came to offer his support for the Higham Hill Library campaign today along with his friend Chris! Even though the library was closed (boo) he was small enough to have a good look around and see the potential of our lovely library and have a sneaky peak at the garden space.
We are hoping that Yellow Man and Chris will have a chance to drop in again during the E17 Art Trail events for the Undersea Library at #HighamHillHarbour in June, even though they are both jolly busy with their own Art Trail event and book launch (Venue 67). Thanks Yellow Man, get your library card sorted and come back soon!
Help us turn Higham Hill Library into an underwater world! Children’s art activities will take place on Saturdays during the Art Trail to create a mural and make some crafty sea creatures and plants!
Every Saturday of the E17 Art Trail (3rd, 10th and 17th June, 10am to 4pm), Higham Hill Library, (venue 20 on the William Morris Trail) will be running children’s craft activities (aimed at 4 to 10 year olds) on the theme of oceans and seas. Throughout the day children can add their decorated sea-creatures to the undersea mural and take part in some fun making activities to take home, or hang up in the Library to create an undersea world. Each week the mural will grow as we add to a shoal of fish, a bale of turtles , a fluther of jellyfish, and perhaps the odd deep-sea anglerfish!
Library users can check out the sea-themed book displays, collect a fact sheet and try the quiz.
In addition, on the three Fridays (2nd, 9th and 16th June) of the E17 Art Trail, the ‘Stories & Rhymes’ sessions for under fours will have an underwater theme too. They run as usual on Fridays at 10.15 – 11 am and at 11.15 – 12 noon. Please note that space is limited to 30 for Stories and Rhymes and these sessions are extremely popular.
The campaign may seem a little quiet at the moment, as LBWF is keeping its cards very close to its chest and no dates have been announced for the Scrutiny or Cabinet Meetings to consider the Libraries Local proposals. But even in the crazy election period, what we can do is take the chance to lobby as many of the relevant councillors as possible and make sure we are heard!
We have a handy chart of when the local councillor surgeries and ward meetings are in May (Link to pdf of this document ) – colours are not indicative of political affiliation – just to make it easier to read! Please, please try and go along to some of these and tell your representatives why the Council’s library proposals are a v. bad thing, and ask them to reject the demolition of our local library!
Many of us have had contact with the ward councilors for HH, WM and CH wards – but we need to get the Cabinet members and the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee members to hear us directly too. Have a look at the dates, pick a surgery and let them know why we need to save our lovely library!
The LBWF consultation period finished on January 31st, 2017. The Council were due to make their report (including the findings of the consultation) public and available by March 3rd and ready for the Neighbourhood Scrutiny Committee on March 13th.
This hasn’t happened. A statement was released in February saying:
“It had been hoped that this report could be presented at Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet in March 2017, however we have asked Scrutiny that the Scrutiny meeting be rescheduled to allow the results of the consultation to be considered in more detail.
Cllr Sharon Waldron, Cabinet Member for Digital and Customer Services said: “We received over 2,000 responses to the public consultation, and I would like to thank everyone who took part and gave their views.
We want to ensure that all the feedback we received is given proper consideration, so we are taking more time to prepare the report that will be presented to Cabinet. We have been very clear from the start of this process that we are committed to listening to residents.” (full statement here)
A recent update on the council’s meeting calendar here indicates that we are unlikely to see the report and hear what the recommendations and decisions for the future of Higham Hill Library are “before 1st June 2017”.
While more than 2000 responses is brilliant, what can we do in the meantime? The most useful thing is to make contact with the councillors involved in the decision making process.
- Councillor Shabana Dhedhi (Chair)
- Councillor Simon Miller (Vice-Chair)
- Councillor Marion Fitzgerald
- Councillor Jemma Hemsted
- Councillor Louise Mitchell
- Councillor Steve Terry
and the current Cabinet members:
- Councillor Chris Robbins (Chair) Council Leader
- Councillor Clyde Loakes Deputy Leader
- Councillor Liaquat Ali MBE JP Cabinet Member
- Councillor Angie Bean Cabinet Member
- Councillor Clare Coghill Cabinet Member
- Councillor Ahsan Khan
- Councillor Khevyn Limbajee Cabinet Member
- Councillor Sharon Waldron Cabinet Member
- Councillor Grace Williams
- Councillor Naheed Asghar Junior Lead Member
- Councillor Stuart Emmerson
NB. Councillor Clare Coghill will be the new Council Leader from May onwards.
Some of these councillors are not local (ie. associated with the affected Wards – Higham Hill, William Morris, Chapel End) and may not be aware of the issues with the consultation, the concerns of local residents and the misrepresentation of our library. They will only have heard the ‘official’ version and promotion of the council’s preferred option to demolish Higham Hill Library. It is up to us to let them know that destroying our much loved library is NOT the way to go.
So get writing, go to surgeries and ward meetings, tell them the truth about our library (all contact details are available through the links above). Let them know that destruction of the building means much more than losing bricks and mortar. And most of all let them know that they are not hearing the full story from their own officers!
Oh and if you haven’t done it already – do sign our petition please!
It’s the 20th anniversary of World Book Day tomorrow, Thursday 2 March. Let’s celebrate the day and celebrate our local library too!
Please come along to Higham Hill Library after school tomorrow and show your love for reading and all that libraries offer, by coming along to borrow a new book. Readers of all ages, children in costume as story characters – everyone welcome!
The library staff have been unpacking the World Book Day materials, so they might be planning some activities too. We would really like to take a photograph of everyone outside the library with their books at 4.15pm.
There will also be a special We Love Higham Hill Library competition to win a £10 book token!
Hope to see you all tomorrow afternoon!