Pay a tenner to find out what will happen to your library

Arcangelo Corelli from Wikipedia
The email below appeared from The Blackheath Society today. Why on earth the privileged members of the Blackheath Society should get a first look at the proposed library changes is beyond me. The library is a publicly owned service, funded by everyone who pays taxes, not just by the members of a small (but extremely useful) society. Maybe it’s the connection between the proposals and a classical music concert that irritates me. Is the library’s future only of interest to people who enjoy listening to Concerti Grossi? The proposals should be permanently displayed in the library, not at a concert like this.

Library plans to be outlined at Age Exchange Concert

Society members will be able to hear an early preview of the future plans for the Blackheath Village Library if they attend the annual Age Exchange (AE) charity concert at St Margaret’s Church on Saturday 19 February.

The mayor of Lewisham is due to announce a series of wide-ranging budget cuts in the second half of February, which will include decisions on each of the borough’s five libraries threatened with closure, and which will be ratified by the full council on 1 March.

It is hoped he will agree to Lewisham’s support for the Blackheath project which would create a new Community Centre, including a new library and Reminiscence Centre (RC) in the existing AE buildings, as Blackheath Village Library would close by the end of May at the latest.

The proposal is backed by the Society, the Village Residents Group and the Library Users’ Group, and Lewisham Council officers have expressed full support for the scheme.

AE is putting up most of the £500,000 required to upgrade the building and financial support from Lewisham is likely to be limited to a one-off grant to help with transitional costs. For this reason there is likely to be a fundraising campaign asking local residents and other supporters to become Friends and pledge a modest annual subscription of £30. Full details will be provided in the Society’s next newsletter in March.

The chair of the AE trustees, Sir Ian Mills, will outline the new proposals before the concert and you will also have an opportunity to view a 3-D model illustrating how the proposed upgraded RC will work.

The concert at the church in Lee Terrace given by Simon and Jenny Standage starts at 7.30pm and a glass of wine is included in the £10 price from 7pm onwards.

It will feature works by Corelli, Matteis, Leclair, Locatelli, Biber and Tartini and be organised around the theme of Angels and Devils. Tickets can be purchased from Age Exchange in the Village or booked by phone from Meg Hamilton on 020 8318 9105.

More about the concert here (pdf) from the Age Exchange site

12 Comments

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12 responses to “Pay a tenner to find out what will happen to your library

  1. adiewadie247

    This event has been advertised in various places and is open to anyone who wants to come. It will be the first opportunity to talk to interested parties after the Mayor’s decision on the 17th, so maybe it is unfair to expect Age Exchange not to promote this project at one of their own events. It costs nothing for the citizens of Blackheath to go into Age Exchange and see the proposals themselves for free.

  2. Kevin Bonavia

    An update on the Age Exchange library proposal was given by Sir Ian Mills at on 24 January at the last Blackheath Assembly (open to all people who live , work or study in Blackheath Ward). It was pretty much along the lines of the Blackheath Society’s summary above. The Mayor has to decide whether to accept the proposal on 17 February, which from the Council’s perspective would mean one-off funding for set-up costs, integrating into the Lewisham library service and providing professional librarian supervision.

    As the proposal also means that Age Exchange will need to fund ongoing maintenance, it needs to raise funds – a classical concert is a start, but I hope there will be other types of event too. In the meantime, the plans can be seen by everyone at the Reminiscence Centre next to Shepherd’s in the Village.

  3. Michele O'Brien

    A half-a-million pound redevelopment building project in the heart of the Village! (And just a few yards round the corner from where I live.)

    How exciting! I bet all us heart-of-the-Village folk are really looking
    forward to that!

    Well we are, aren’t we?

  4. Sounds about right from the amenity societies in this area, who are now hogging all the consultation over the Olympics in Greenwich Park – it really does feel like democracy if you can afford it.

    Incidentally, the plans for the library are – I think – being indepedently promoted by the Blackheath Society.

  5. Darilhena

    Thank you. I am delighted to read this since my anger at receiving the email from the Blackheath Society this morning was enormous. With respect to Sir Ian Mills (I do respect him) I think his little project has killed off our village library for good. Ms Buckton and co have collaborated with him from day one thus killing off all the hours of work the BVLUG have put in over many months, disregarding the 6000 people who signed our petition to keep our library and its staff. As a long-standing member (more than 40 years) of the Blackheath Sociey I took their minutes as a volunteer back in the late 60s – I am disappointed at their stance and their kowtowing. This is like the worst kind of manifestation of the BIG SOCIETY and Cameron’s patronising deceit. A world run by volunteers, the poorest denied access to medical help (yes, because the private companies will cream off only what it suits them to invest in – too bad if your suffer from a painful condition which is not fatal) and an apology for a library open to classical music lovers (poor people can’t as a rule afford to go to classical concerts). They say libraries are elitist – well the Age Exchange library will be the most elitist instituion of all and it won’t even be a real library service as we know it now. Perhaps Sir Steve Bullock should be looking at his obligations under the relevant Libraries and Museums Act

    • adiewadie247

      There seems to be some hope in some minds that the Library as it is has a future. We can either come up with solutions or keeping flogging dead horses. I prefer to support those who are trying to solve the problem. Until libraries are supported from central government with (proper) protection in law we will continue to see libraries under threat on a regular basis. This is about the 4th time that Blackheath Library has been under threat in my knowledge. Unfortunately it is going to go this time. Lets get behind the people trying to salvage as much as possible from this short-sighted decision.

  6. House of joy

    I am angry at the Blackheath Society and while I respect Sir Ian Mills I think he has ruined our chances of saving the Blackheath Village Library. No doubt Ms Buckton and her allies are pleased – I think they decided on Sir Ian’s plan months ago – so much for the hard work of the BVLUG group and the 6000 people who signed the petition TO KEEP THE LIBRARY. Is this the BIG Society? I don’t want it – in libraries or anything else. It will be the world of Lord and Lady Bountifuls so beloved of Mrs Thatcher and her little boy Cameron – the poor will be grateful for any crumbs from rich people’s tables; low income people won’t venture in to the apology of a library which Age Exchange is setting up with money from Lewisham Council tax payers. A disgrace and shame all round

  7. Michele O'Brien

    It was pretty obvious to anyone with ears to hear at the public meeting with Lewisham Council officials at Blackheath Concert Halls on Oct. 13 last year
    that the Age Exchange takeover of the library was a done deal as a key fund-
    raising element in Sir Ian Mills’ plans for major expansion at Age Exchange.

    Anyone for empire building?

  8. Is any of this connected with Greenwich Council’s (provisional, I think) decision to stop funding Age Exchange? (The current AE centre is within Greenwich’s borders.)

    • adiewadie247

      I would have thought that it is unlikely to be a major driver. Age Exchange gets funding from many organisations depending on the projects it runs. While AE does I believe get funding from Greenwich and Lewisham at various times, as Ian Mills has previously stated this proposal would give AE more financial stability. I have no idea what percentage of funds are due to Greenwich but I would expect it to be quite low.

  9. Pingback: The Reluctant Library | The Blackheath Bugle

  10. Paul Webbewood

    I am not impressed by the contributions of Darilhena and House of Joy.

    The Age Exchange scheme may well be inferior to what we have at present but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence for claiming that it “will be the most elitist institution of all” and would require users to hum a classical tune before being granted admission or that “low income people won’t venture in”.

    Perhaps our two anonymous posters could identify themselves – I’m sure the Socialist Workers Party would want to sign them up.

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