NEW CHISWICK LIBRARY
The Friends of Chiswick Library contributed to the discussion and listened with interest to what Councillors, Officers and the public had to say.
It became clear to us that the original plan for the new library as submitted for public consultation and discussed at the January public meeting was still the only one in existence. We had been led to believe that it 'had gone back to the drawing board' according to a statement made in July by the Leader of the Council as reported on the ChiswickW4.com website. We were then given to understand that alternatives were being solicited. Now that we know that is not the case, we are anxious to be up-dated on the current situation and kept thoroughly informed about all aspects of any new proposals so that we may evaluate them.
The public deserves to be fully informed about the following:
The following is our assessment of the present position bearing in mind that essential knowledge is denied us:
It has been constantly reiterated that the council has no funds with which to fulfil its obligation under the DDA the third phase of which comes into force in 2004 making possible legal challenges with respect to the equal provision of service and putting certain parts of the library, especially the Reference Library and Local Studies rooms as well as the study space at risk. It remains a fact that the council has money and that its allocation is a question of priorities. We feel that the public should have some means of knowing what those priorities are and expressing its own views as to what these should be.
With respect to the idea of an open architectural competition for Chiswick's new library, sponsors including and alternative to Workspace plc could be sought. It has been suggested that Workspace could redevelop its own site and, in return for such planning permission, its share of Section 106 money be allocated for the re-building of the new library as seen fit by its administrators and users. There is an immense amount of extremely valuable private development taking place in the eastern end of the borough with a consequent increase in available Section 106 monies that could be drawn upon to fund such a scheme. A driving force behind successful social renewal in various parts of the country has been regeneration of the artistic and cultural environment: the Art Gallery in Walsall, the Baltic Exchange in Gateshead, Salford Quays, the Tate Modern. Chiswick Library presents Hounslow Borough Council with just such an opportunity.
There was considerable disgruntlement expressed at PFI at the September 11 meeting. It was regarded as inviting overdevelopment and the relegation of public amenities to the lowest order quite apart from the fact that it is storing up debt for our children to pay off. In the case of the particular deal being considered, we understand that Workspace plc would become owners/leasholders of the entire site bequeathed to the people by Sandersons.
Friends of Chiswick Library
12 September 2002