Anger Over Tech Firm Renting Room In Chiswick Library

Community should be using library space says local councillor

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Chiswick councillor John Todd is angry that a first floor room in Chiswick Library has been rented out to a worksharing company instead of being used for the local community.

The company, is currently refurbishing the room and has installed a burglar alarm- the company rents out office space to users including access to computers, free tea and coffee and a space for meetings- it has a number of other 'co-working' hubs in London.

Cllr Todd said he wants an urgent reply from Hounslow Council as to why a leasing agreement was reached between wimbletech and the contractor in charge of Chiswick Library, without any prior publication, or notice given to to local councillors or Chiswick library users.

Cllr Todd said; "I and my colleagues and I suspect many Chiswick residents and library users will be appalled at this provocative  move by our contractor."

It is understood that Hounslow Council was not aware of the letting of the library room.

The co-working goup is currently refurbishing the room and has installed a burglar alarm. A separate entry is provided to customers from an existing exterior staircase. The company is currently advertising the space on its web site with an image of the Chiswick Library.

Cllr Todd, and the other eight local councillors have applied to Hounslow Council for £1 m funding from the current S106 budget towards the refurbishment of the library in Dukes Avenue.

The campaign to upgrade the library, the second busiest library in the borough of Hounslow, has been gaining local momentum with some resident's groups, schoolchildren and individuals offering their support to the councillors.

Cllr Todd said it was proving frustrating to try to make progress on the issue."All efforts to elicit from LBH their intentions for this building have been consistently rebuffed. This item is frequently on the Chiswick Area Forum Agenda." 

He said the contract with the tech company should have appeared in the recently published,  Agenda for Officer Delegated Decisions - published in accordance with Part 3 of the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014. 

Hounslow Council is currently consulting the public on its new strategy for leisure and culture for 2016-2020 which will see a reduction in the budget for the area of £2.3 million over the next four years. The consultation is due to end on the 16th November.

An Independent Library Report for the Department of Culture (written by William Siegart) published last December stated that; "The library does more than simply loan books. It underpins every community. It is not just a place for self-improvement, but the supplier of an infrastructure for life and learning, from babies to old age, offering support, help, education, and encouraging a love of reading."You can read the full report

A total of 338,676 people visited Chiswick Library in 2014/15, with an average of 123 visitors per hour of opening, according to research carried out by Hounslow Council.

October 23, 2015